U.S. markets on edge ahead of Federal Reserve's policy decision

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U.S. markets on edge ahead of Federal Reserve's policy decision
Credit: © Reuters.

The U.S. financial market exhibited minimal changes early Wednesday as traders eagerly awaited the Federal Reserve's policy decision, scheduled for 2 p.m. Eastern. The cautious sentiment was reflected in U.S. stock futures, benchmark Treasury yields, and the dollar index , all of which remained largely unchanged.

The anticipation follows a downward trend in the previous trading day when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 107 points, or 0.31%, closing at 34518. The S&P 500 also fell by 10 points, or 0.22%, to settle at 4444, while the Nasdaq Composite declined by 32 points, or 0.23%, ending at 13678.

Despite recent drops, the S&P 500 has experienced a significant rally this year with a rise of 17.3%. This surge is primarily attributed to optimism around the Federal Reserve's monetary tightening cycle concluding without causing substantial harm to the economy.

Investors are widely anticipating that the Federal Open Market Committee will maintain interest rates within the range of 5.25% to 5.50%. However, future rate movements remain less certain amidst recent U.S. economic data outperforming expectations and oil prices reaching a 10-month high this week, both contributing to concerns about persistent inflationary pressures and potentially necessitating prolonged elevated borrowing costs.

The market's focus will be keenly directed towards the Federal Reserve's dot plot and Chair Jerome Powell's press conference on Wednesday afternoon, both of which could reveal significant market-influencing information.

Analysts predict that traders will primarily concentrate on the Federal Reserve's summary of economic projections and its dot plot. Reports suggest that median rate projections for upcoming years could increase to convey a message of sustained higher rates. However, it is crucial to consider any underlying shifts in these projections and how Chair Powell portrays any changes during his press conference.

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