U.S. stock futures were muted in morning trading Wednesday as investors awaited a decision from the Federal Reserve on its move to start withdrawing the support it has been providing.
Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dipped 51 points. S&P 500 futures were about flat and Nasdaq 100 futures rose slightly. All three major averages closed at record highs on Tuesday.
Lyft jumped nearly 13% in after hours trading on better-than-expected third-quarter results. Zillow fell more than 11% after announcing it will close its home buying and flipping business. Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond rose on a partnership announcement with Kroger but the nearly 70% after hours surge that followed was likely fueled by a short squeeze.
Activision shares tumbled, falling nearly 12% after it said the launch of two games would be delayed. The company also issued a weaker holiday outlook thought it did beat profit estimates for the quarter.
Investors are focused on the Federal Reserve, which is expected to announce the timeline for a gradual reduction in its bond-buying program Wednesday at the conclusion of its two-day meeting. They’ll also be listening for clues on when the central bank plans to raise interest rates.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is expected to stress that the reduction process known as tapering does not equate to tightening policy. Traders are pricing in a more aggressive path of interest rate hikes than the Fed is anticipating, so Powell may try to talk the market down.
However, the Fed also will have to show that it is not ignoring the rise in inflation that has taken price increases to their fastest year over pace in 30 years.
“With the S&P 500 up 13 days in the past 15 ahead of the Fed beginning the process of draining the punch bowl, there certainly is a lot of confidence that strong earnings will overcome everything,” said Peter Boockvar, Bleakley Advisory Group’s CIO. “That said, global monetary tightening is taking place, not just with the Fed, and that should not be ignored either.”
Equities rose Tuesday as companies continued to deliver strong earnings reports. Of the S&P 500 companies that have reported so far this earnings season, 83% of them have beat consensus expectations, according to FactSet. That’s despite ongoing supply chain disruptions, labor challenges, commodity inflation, central bank policy and Covid risk.
“Stocks are like the Energizer Bunny, as they continue to soar to new highs and show no signs of tiring,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist for LPL Financial. “We understand all of the worries out there, but the bottom line is earnings continue to come in way better than expected and are helping to justify stocks are current levels.”
In regular trading on Tuesday, the Dow rose 138.79 points to 36,052.63. The S&P 500 added 0.3% and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.3%. All three major averages closed at records for the third session in a row. The small cap Russell 2000 rose slightly and closed at an all-time high.
Those highs are making a potential year-end rally more conceivable to investors.
“The primary market trend appears higher,” said Keith Lerner, co-chief investment officer at Truist. “In the eight periods since 1950 where stocks were up more than 20% through October, as they are this year, the S&P 500 tacked on additional gains by year end 100% of the time with an average gain of 6.2%.”
Investors also will get a look at the jobs market when payrolls processing firm ADP releases its report on private employment at 8:15 a.m. Economists surveyed by Dow Jones expect the report to show that companies added 395,000 positions for October.