S&P 500, Dow retreat ahead of Fed outlook; Nasdaq hits new high

(Reuters) – The S&P 500 and Dow slipped on Wednesday, as losses in financial stocks outweighed a boost from technology, with focus shifting to the Federal Reserve’s first projections on the economy since the coronavirus outbreak.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq, by contrast, hit a record high for the fourth straight session, with gains for Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) driving a rally which has taken the index back into bull market territory.

The Fed concludes its regular two-day meeting later on Wednesday, with investors set to parse the outcome for signs on how long the central bank plans to maintain its ultra loose policy along with any plans to introduce yield control measures aimed at U.S. Treasuries.

“If the Fed is going to control the yield curve, then stock valuations make much more sense than many people believe they do,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Co.

A surge of more than 45% in the three main U.S. stock indexes, since falling sharply in March, has been underpinned by unprecedented monetary and fiscal stimulus measures and resulting hopes of an economic rebound.

The benchmark S&P 500 .SPX is about 5.5% below its all-time high.

Any hint that the Fed could rein in stimulus could derail the stock market’s recovery in the past month.

“The market wants assurance that the Fed is not going to step in and stunt or slow the recovery,” said Kevin Miller, chief investment officer at E-valuator Funds in Bloomington, Minnesota.

The global economy will suffer the biggest peacetime downturn in a century before it emerges next year from a recession, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said on Wednesday.

At 11:20 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 194.34 points, or 0.71%, at 27,077.96, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 9.85 points, or 0.31%, at 3,197.33. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 53.73 points, or 0.54%, at 10,007.48.

Rate-sensitive financial stocks .SPSY slipped 2.3%, tracking a fall in U.S. Treasury yields. The energy sector .SPNY shed 3.5%, as oil prices weakened after a rise in U.S. crude inventories raised oversupply concerns. [O/R]

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc (AMC.N) jumped 9.6% after saying it expects to reopen its movie theaters globally in July.

The S&P 1500 airlines index .SPCOMAIR slumped 7.1% as J.P.Morgan analysts said the current pace of rise in U.S. airline stocks cannot be maintained for much longer.

Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) slipped 4.2% as it expected current-quarter operating income to plunge by up to $2.2 billion, as well as sales declines for the rest of the year.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 3.44-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.19-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 12 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 54 new highs and no new low.

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