By Shreyashi Sanyal
(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes took a pause on Wednesday, after a rally the previous day, as investors held back from making big bets ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy statement that is expected to lay the groundwork for future interest rate cuts.
Markets have climbed this month, with the S&P 500 index gaining 6% so far and 1% away from its all-time high hit in early May, fueled by hopes of a rate cut.
The Fed’s statement and new economic projections are scheduled to be released at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), providing investors an opportunity to gauge the impact of a prolonged U.S.-China trade conflict, President Donald Trump’s demands for a rate cut and softer-than-expected economic data on monetary policy thinking.
The U.S. central bank will likely leave rates unchanged but the market is factoring in a cut as soon as next month. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. ET (1830 GMT).
“I think the potential for the Fed to disappoint today is significantly higher than the market expects,” said Yousef Abbasi, global market strategist at INTL FCStone Financial Inc in New York.
“The Fed has already told us that it’s ready to act but with the metrics we’ve seen in the economy – yes, they’re mixed, but they’re still growing – it just becomes very difficult for someone to say we absolutely need a rate cut.”
U.S. Treasury yields rose on Wednesday, tracking the European market, after steep falls the previous day, as investors rebalanced positions ahead of the Fed decision.
The financial sector gained 0.40%, with bank stocks rising by 0.15%.
At 11:18 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 39.27 points, or 0.15%, at 26,504.81 and the S&P 500 was down 0.23 points, or 0.01%, at 2,917.52.
The Nasdaq Composite was down 3.74 points, or 0.05%, at 7,950.15.
The healthcare sector rose 0.44%, the most among the 11 major S&P sectors, helped by gains in UnitedHealth Group Inc, Pfizer Inc and Allergan Plc.
Allergan climbed 4.03% after the drugmaker said its constipation drug, jointly developed with Ironwood Pharmaceuticals Inc, improved symptoms of bloating, pain and discomfort in patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome with constipation.
Adobe Inc jumped 4.43% after the Photoshop software provider beat analysts’ estimates for quarterly profit and revenue.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.10-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.30-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 15 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 35 new highs and 43 new lows.
(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)