Fed Pledges to Keep Rates near Zero, Stocks Flat

The S&P 500 closed around the flat line on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged in its latest policy decision and hinted that it would keep easy monetary policy where it is for some time despite a strengthening economy and rising inflation.

The Dow Jones Industrials were in the red 164.55 points to close Wednesday at 33,820.38, dragged by a 7.2{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} drop in Amgen’s stock on disappointing earnings.

Boeing lost nearly 3{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} after posting its sixth straight quarterly loss, which also weighed on the Dow.

The S&P 500 dipped 3.54 points to 4,183.18

The NASDAQ Composite fell 39.19 points to 14,051.03.

Google parent Alphabet reported better-than-expected earnings after the bell on Tuesday, sending shares of the tech giant up 3{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29}. Alphabet saw its revenues grow 34{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} from a year ago.

Meanwhile, Microsoft shares dipped 2.8{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} even after the company topped analyst estimates. Microsoft had its largest revenue growth since 2018, thanks in part to gains in PC sales resulting from coronavirus-driven shortages last year.

Technology darlings Apple and Facebook both report earnings on Wednesday after the bell.

The Fed wrapped up its two-day policy meeting on Wednesday, where the central bank left rates near zero. It upgraded its assessment of the economy and acknowledged inflation was rising.

The S&P 500 traded to its high of the day after Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a press conference that it would likely take “some time” before the Fed’s objectives are achieved. Powell also said it is not time yet to begin talking about tapering the Fed’s monthly asset purchases.

Stocks traded off those highs, however, when Powell acknowledged that some asset prices may be high and there may be some frothiness in equity markets.

Elsewhere, President Joe Biden is set to unveil later on Wednesday a $1.8-trillion plan in new spending and tax credits geared toward helping families.

The Biden administration’s new spending plan would hike the top income tax rate to 39.6{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} for the wealthiest Americans and raise taxes on capital gains to 39.6{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} for households making more than $1 million, according to senior administration officials. Stocks took a hit initially last week when reports of this tax hike began to surface.

Prices for 10-Year Treasurys were higher, weighing yields to 1.61{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29} from Tuesday’s 1.63{fde03d2f1c3ee029f0b86461a3e50e9d647f04138057fbe6f119870871f02d29}. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices gained 85 cents to $63.79 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices gained $3.20 to $1,782 U.S. an ounce.

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