U.S. stocks are little slightly lower ahead of a statement due
out shortly from Federal Reserve policy-makers that traders hope
will detail additional stimulus measures by the central bank.
Shares have largely been drifting in a narrow range throughout the
morning, with traders apparently unwilling to stake out positions
before the Fed announcement. Most industry sectors in the S&P
500 are down in mid-day trade, with financial and technology stocks
the lone gainers this afternoon. Commodities also are lower.
The two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting concludes
today with its statement at 12:30 p.m. ET. Fed Chairman Ben
Bernanke later will conduct a 2:15 p.m. news conference.
The consensus among investors has the Fed extending its
so-called "Operation Twist" -- buying longer-dated debt instruments
with the proceeds of shorter-dated bonds in its portfolio as they
expire -- in a bid to lower borrowing costs. While the chances of
further quantitative easing seemed extremely likely a few months
ago, signs of a slowdown in U.S. economic growth recently have
fueled sentiment the Fed will act to prop up the economy.
The formation of a new government today in Greece following
Sunday's parliamentary elections has had little impact on equities.
Pro-austerity parties won a narrow majority and their leader
announced an agreement earlier today on a new ruling coalition. The
new government will not be official, however, until Greece's
president approves the mandate, expected within the next few
In economic news, chief executives at U.S. companies are less
likely to add new workers and fewer are expecting sales to rise in
upcoming quarters, according to a survey by the Business Roundtable
released on Wednesday. Overall, the group's CEO Economic Outlook
Index fell to 89.1 in Q2, down from a 96.9 reading in Q1 although
the measure of executive optimism remains well above the 50 mark
separating growth from decline.
In corporate news, JPMorgan Chase (
) shares are up about 2.5% today amid reports the money center bank
has sold off most of the losing corporate-credit position that cost
it billions of dollars, people familiar with the matter were
JPM has divested between 65% to 70% of its holdings in the
credit derivative index that tracks a cross-section of selected
corporate debt instruments. The position played a major role in
what the bank has estimated to be at least $2 billion in losses, a
figure bank chief Jamie Dimon first acknowledged publicly on May
Volume in Series 9 of the Markit CDX North America Investment
Grade Index has surged the past two days, with a record $31 billion
of contracts expiring in December 2017 traded yesterday, according
to two Credit Suisse traders in an e-mail to market participants.
That compares with an average of between $2 billion and $3 billion,
the traders said.
Elsewhere, the S&P Consumer Staples Index is down about
0.7%, the steepest decline among industry sectors in the S&P
500, after Procter & Gamble Co. (
) cut its Q4 profit and sales forecasts for a second time and
outlined initial estimates for fiscal 2013.
Citing weaker-than-expected growth in developed markets, P&G
said it will likely earn an adjusted $0.75 to $0.79 a share during
the current quarter ending later this month, down from its prior
forecast of $0.79 to $0.85 a share and trailing the FactSet
Research consensus of analysts by at least $0.03. PG also pared its
sales outlook for the current period, saying net sales will likely
fall 1% to 2% below year-ago levels
Crude oil prices are down slightly more than 1% today, with the
August NYMEX contract down 97 cents at $83.38 a barrel. Crude had
been little changed to slightly higher earlier this morning ahead
of the weekly U.S. Energy Information Agency inventory report,
which saw a 2.9 million barrel build to 387.3 million during the
week ended June 15 fueled by a second week of large import
Other commodities are mostly lower. July natural gas is flat at
$2.546 per 1 million BTU. August gold is off $16.10, or nearly 1%,
at $1,607.10 an ounce while July silver is up 2 cents at $28.39 an
ounce. July copper is down 3 cents at $3.4025.
Among energy ETFs, the US Oil Fund is down 2.62% to $30.85 and
the US Natural Gas Fund is off 1.47% at $17.41. Among
precious-metal funds, the Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF is down
1.51% to $46.96 and the SPDR Gold Shares ETF is 0.83% lower at
$155.85. The iShares Silver Trust is down 0.14% to $27.60.
Here's where the markets stand at mid-day.
NYSE Composite Index is down 1.68 (-0.02%) to 7,764.5811
Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 25.09 (-0.20%) to
S&P 500 is down 3.33 (-0.25%) to 1,354.65
Nasdaq Composite Index is down 2.11 (-0.07%) to 2,927.65
Nikkei 225 Index up 1.11%
Hang Seng Index up 0.53%
Shanghai China Composite Index down 0.34%
FTSE 100 Index up 0.64%
NYSE SECTOR INDICES
NYSE Energy Sector Index unchanged at 11,806.40
NYSE Financial Sector Index up 0.40% at 4,436.88
NYSE Healthcare Sector Index is down 0.09% at 7,355.29
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