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US stocks little changed ahead of Fed announcement

New York: Wall Street stocks were little changed in early trade on Wednesday ahead of a policy statement from the US Federal Reserve that could spell out its interest rate plans.

About 35 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 15.18 (0.09 per cent) to 16,351.37.

The broad-based S&P 500 ticked 0.61 (0.03 per cent) higher to 1,872.86, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 3.56 (0.03 per cent) to 4,330.53..

The Fed is widely expected to continue paring its bond-buying programme when it releases its policy statement at 1800 GMT.

Less clear is how the central bank will handle questions about its guidance to keep interest rates very low. The Fed has previously set a 6.5 per cent jobless rate as a threshold for a shift in policy.

But Fed Chair Janet Yellen is expected to de-link interest rate plans from that threshold since the official unemployment rate has already fallen to 6.7 per cent.

FedEx advanced 0.1 per cent after reporting earnings of $1.23 (Dh4.51) per share, below the $1.46 forecast by analysts. The company said its package-delivery business was hit by severe winter weather.

General Mills also cited the weather as a factor that depressed sales. Earnings at the food company met expectations but revenues of $4.38 billion lagged the $4.41 billion expected by analysts. Shares rose 0.6 percent.

Software giant Oracle fell 2.9 per cent after earnings of 68 cents per share missed estimates of 70 cents per share.

Adobe Systems meanwhile topped expectations, reporting earnings of 30 cents per share, better than the 25 cents forecast by analysts. Shares dipped 0.6 per cent.

Dow member JPMorgan Chase announced a $3.5 billion agreement to sell its commodities business to Mercuria Energy Group Limited, a Swiss trading firm. JPMorgan shares rose 0.3 per cent.

Builder KB Home shot up 7.9 per cent as it reported a 21 per cent rise in potential future housing revenues from orders to $851.6 million. The company also reported net income of $10.6 million, compared with a loss of $12.5 million in the year-ago period.

Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury bond held steady at 2.68 per cent, while the 30-year slipped to 3.62 per cent from 3.63 per cent on Tuesday. Bond prices and yields move inversely.