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U.S. Turning In Lackluster Performance As Fed Announcement Looms

wallstreet up 032918 16jun21 lt

Stocks are turning in a lackluster performance in morning trading on Wednesday, as traders look ahead to the Federal Reserve's monetary policy announcement. The Dow and the Nasdaq have moved in opposite directions, while the S&P 500 is lingering near the unchanged line.

Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. While the Nasdaq is up 48.47 points or 0.3 percent at 14,121.33, the Dow is down 57.29 points or 0.2 percent at 34,242.04 and the S&P 500 is down 1.40 points or less than a tenth of a percent at 4,245.19.

Trading activity is likely to remain subdued in the lead up to the Fed's latest monetary policy announcement scheduled for 2 pm ET.

The Fed is widely expected to leave monetary policy unchanged, but traders will be paying close attention to any changes to the accompanying statement.

The central bank's comments about its asset purchase program are likely to be in focus, as many analysts expect the Fed to signal that it is starting to think about tapering.

Along with the monetary policy announcement, the Fed is also due to provide updated projections for the economy, inflation and interest rates.

Traders are likely to keep a close eye on the latest interest rate projections, as the Fed's previous forecast indicated rates would remain at near-zero levels through 2023.

Ahead of the Fed announcement, the Commerce Department released a report this morning showing housing starts rebounded in the month of May.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed import prices increased by more than expected in the month of May.

Reflecting the lackluster performance being turned in by the broader markets, most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day.

Steel stocks have shown a significant move to the downside on the day, however, with disappointing Chinese industrial production data weighing on the sector. The NYSE Arca Steel Index has slumped by 2.1 percent.

Considerable weakness has also emerged among banking stocks, as reflected by the 1.6 percent drop by the KBW Bank Index. The index has fallen to its lowest intraday level in well over a month.

Energy stocks are also giving back ground following yesterday's rally, while some strength is visible among biotechnology stocks.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.5 percent and China's Shanghai Composite Index slumped by 1.1 percent, although South Korea's Kospi bucked the downtrend to reach a new record high.

Meanwhile, the major European markets are turning in a lackluster performance on the day. While the German DAX Index is down by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.2 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are showing a lack of direction ahead of the Fed announcement. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis point at 1.491 percent.

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