U.S. stocks ticked higher at Wednesday’s session open before giving up gains, continuing a sluggish start to the week as investors digested new economic data and awaited comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.
The S&P 500 (^GSPC) inched lower by 0.1% in early trading, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) was down by 0.3%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) rose by 0.3%.
Stocks finished lower on Tuesday, even as concerns regarding China’s strict zero-COVID policy abated. U.S.-listed Chinese stocks rose on Tuesday as Beijing announced plans to accelerate vaccination of China’s elderly, spurring optimism among investors about a path forward for easing COVID restrictions amid nationwide protests.
The U.S. dollar was weaker early Wednesday, while the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note slipped to 3.733% from 3.755% on Tuesday. In oil markets, the global benchmark Brent crude (BZ=F) climbed 2.3% to $82.90 a barrel. WTI crude oil (CL=F) rose 2.6% on Wednesday to $80.25 a barrel.
For investors, though, all eyes will be on the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s speech on Wednesday afternoon at the Brookings Institution, the last speech before the Fed’s next rate setting meeting in mid-December. But “investors are oscillating between bracing for a repeat of Jackson Hole and seeing Powell reiterate the views from other recent Fedspeak,” wrote Andrew Tyler, head of US Market Intelligence at J.P. Morgan.
As the Fed strives to meet its dual mandate of price stability and maximum sustained employment, it is widely expected that Powell will signal that the Fed is on track to ease up slightly on its pace of monetary policy tightening, likely to step down to a 50-basis-points increase.
This speech also comes less than two weeks before the release of November’s consumer price data.
“All eyes are going to continue to be on inflation at this point,” Providence Financial & Insurance Services President Anthony Saccaro told Yahoo Finance Live on Tuesday.
Ahead of Powell’s schedule speech on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary…