Thursday, July 25, 2024

Stock market today: US markets mixed before the bell ahead of Fed rate decision, Big Tech earnings

by Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are drifting at the start of a week where Wall Street’s most influential stocks will show whether the huge expectations built up for them are justified. The S&P 500, the Dow and the Nasdaq composite were little changed in early trading Monday. Big Tech stocks are the main reason the S&P 500 has soared to a record high since two autumns ago. Seven of them have been responsible for the majority of the index’s returns over that time, and five of those will report their latest results this week: Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Meta Platforms and Microsoft.

Premarket trading was mixed early Monday as investors braced for another busy week, including a decision by the U.S. Federal Reserve on interest rates.

Futures for the S&P 500 gained less than 0.1% before the bell, while futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were essentially flat.

The U.S. Federal Reserve is scheduled to announce its monetary policy on Wednesday, with traders not anticipating a rate cut. The Bank of England follows with its rate decision on Thursday.

The Fed’s policymakers could signal that they’re close to cutting rates by adjusting the language in the statement they issue after each meeting. In December, their statement still suggested officials were willing to consider more rate increases. Removing or altering that language might signal a new approach, focused on rate cuts.

Beginning in March of 2022, the Fed has hiked its main interest rate to the highest level in more than two decades, trying to slow the economy to get inflation fully under control.

A report Friday showed the measure of inflation the Fed prefers to use behaved just about exactly as expected in December. Overall inflation by that measure was 2.6% during the month, matching November’s rate.

This week will also bring another trove of corporate earnings, including the biggest technology companies in the world. Alphabet and Microsoft report on Tuesday, while Apple, Amazon and Meta report on Thursday. General Motors, Starbucks and Boeing also post earnings this week, along with dozens of other companies.

Elsewhere, in European trading at midday, France’s CAC 40 was nearly unchanged, while Germany’s DAX shed 0.5%. Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.4%.

Monday kicked off with a Hong Kong court’s decision to order China Evergrande, the world’s most indebted property developer, to be liquidated. Chinese markets were mixed after the ruling, with Hong Kong shares rising while benchmarks in Shanghai and Shenzhen sank.

China Evergrande Group will be liquidated after the Hong Kong High Court approved a creditor’s petition on Monday rejecting the heavily indebted developer’s appeal for more time to work out a resolution for its offshore debts. Evergrande has more than $300 billion in liabilities.

Beginning Monday, China’s securities regulators suspended lending of specific shares for short selling, a move to support the country’s declining stock markets. The specific shares refer to Restricted Stock, which is typically allocated to employees or certain strategic investors subject to sales restrictions.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong added 0.8% to 16,077.24, while the Shanghai Composite index dropped 0.9% to 2,883.36. The Shenzhen Component index, in China’s smaller main market, slipped more than 2% to 8,581.76.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.8% to 36,026.94. In South Korea, the Kospi jumped 0.9% to 2,500.65.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was 0.3% higher at 7,576.20. In Bangkok, the SET rose 0.8%.

In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude gave up 8 cents to $77.83 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, declined 12 cents to $82.83 a barrel.

In currency trading, the U.S. dollar slipped to 147.92 Japanese yen from 148.11 yen. The euro cost $1.0831, down from $1.0846.

On Friday, the S&P 500 slipped 0.1% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2%. Weakness in tech stocks dragged the Nasdaq composite to a 0.4% loss.

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