Wall St mixed as focus shifts to Fed's taper decision

Wall St mixed as focus shifts to Fed's taper decision
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NEW YORK/BENGALURU (Nov 4): US stocks indexes traded mixed in a narrow range on Wednesday as investors looked ahead to the Federal Reserve's widely expected move to signal the withdrawal of its pandemic-era support, while Activision Blizzard slid on a leadership change.

Six of the 11 major S&P sectors fell, with energy and industrials declining the most. The banking sub-index was down 0.4%.

The US central bank will likely announce the tapering of its US$120 billion-a-month asset purchase programme in its policy statement due at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).

"The taper is largely priced into markets right now, as the Fed has been telegraphing its intentions to taper for several months," said Danielle DiMartino Booth, CEO and chief strategist of Quill Intelligence in Dallas, Texas.

The Fed's statement will be followed by Chair Jerome Powell's news conference, which market participants will be closely watching for views on inflation and path of interest rate hikes.

"If the Fed indicates that it will raise interest rates before the end of the year, this may be a sign that inflation is not as transitory as the Fed has said. This could shock investors and spark a selloff in the market," said Anthony Denier, chief executive officer of trading platform Webull.

Wall Street has largely shrugged off concerns around rising price pressures and mixed economic growth, boosted by a stellar third-quarter earnings season and an upbeat commentary about growth going forward that drove US stocks to record highs this week.

Capri Holdings Ltd surged 14.8% after the Michael Kors owner raised its annual profit forecast above Wall Street estimates. The outlook also boosted shares of Tapestry Inc by 4.8%.

T-Mobile US gained 5.5% to provide the biggest boost to the Nasdaq after the US wireless carrier beat third-quarter estimates for adding monthly bill paying phone subscribers.

Lyft Inc surged 7.9% after the ride-hailing firm reported an adjusted profit for the third quarter, while CVS Health Corp added 4.6% after it expects 2022 adjusted profit to be in line with expectations.

At 12:21 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 101.45 points or 0.28% at 35,951.18, the S&P 500 was down 4.63 points or 0.10% at 4,626.02, and the Nasdaq Composite was up 21.72 points or 0.14% at 15,671.33, hitting a record high.

Meanwhile, data showed US private employers maintained a solid pace of hiring in October, while a measure of US services industry activity surged to a record high, likely as declining Covid-19 cases boosted demand.

Activision Blizzard Inc tumbled 15.0% to weigh the most on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq, after the videogame publisher delayed the launch of two much-awaited titles, as its co-leader Jen Oneal decided to step down from her role.

Deere & Co slipped 4.9%, as the tractor maker's workers were set to continue their three-week-old strike after they voted to reject a second contract.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.48-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and by a 1.47-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 45 new 52-week highs and three new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 172 new highs and 38 new lows.