Finished Mixed But Mostly Lower after Powell Disappoints

The major U.S. stock indexes finished mixed, but mostly lower on Wednesday as traders digested the Federal Reserve’s pledge to keep rates low over the next few years.

The Dow and S&P 500 added to gains on Wednesday after the U.S. Federal Reserve delivered a policy statement that bolstered expectations it will keep interest rates near zero for a prolonged period of time.

The Dow rose more than 1% and the NASDAQ Composite turned positive after the Fed kept rates near zero and promised to keep them near there until inflation is on track to “moderately exceed” the U.S. central bank’s 2% inflation target “for some time.”

In the cash market on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 3385.49, down 15.71 or -0.46%. The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 28032.38, up 36.78 or +0.13% and the tech-driven NASDAQ Composite closed at 11050.47, down 139.85 or -1.25%.

Normally, the prospects of lower rates for a prolonged time period spur buying in equities. However, that was not the case on Wednesday.

The S&P 500 and NASDAQ both closed lower and the Dow ended well off its session high. Big Tech dragged down the S&P 500 and NASDAQ, with Apple, Facebook and Microsoft all closing lower.

Stocks gave up their gains as Fed Chairman Jerome Powell briefed the media, and described the Fed’s guidance as strong and “powerful.”

“He’s the great and powerful Oz. Investors got duped. They thought enhanced forward guidance meant something, but when they peeked behind the curtain they realized the Fed didn’t say anything, and the market rolled over,” said Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors.

AB economist Eric Winograd added that they thought Powell may have undercut the dovish message he was sending.

Mixed Data Keeps Investors on Edge

Mixed data also kept investors on edge about the pace of an economic recovery as latest figures showed U.S. consumer spending slowed in August, with a key retail sales gauge unexpectedly declining.

Stocks on the Move

Delivery firm FedEx Corp jumped 6.4% after reporting a bigger-than-expected quarterly profit, helped in part by price hikes and lower fuel costs. Shares in rival United Parcel Services Inc gained 0.2%.

Spotify Technology SA slipped 3.4% after the streaming music firm criticized Apple Inc, saying that a new subscription bundle offer from the iPhone maker abuses its dominant position by favoring its own Apple Music service.

Eastman Kodak Co jumped 33.9% after a law firm hired by the photography equipment maker said its chief executive officer’s securities transactions around the time the company learned it could receive a $765 million government load did not violate internal policies.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

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