Wall Street dips ahead of Fed decision

·3-min read

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq have slipped as growth stocks lost ground while banks gained ahead of a Federal Reserve policy decision expected to result in the biggest interest rate hike since 2000.

Six of the 11 major S&P sectors advanced in early trading, led by energy stocks.

Oil prices jumped nearly 4.0 per cent as the European Union spelled out plans to phase out imports of Russian oil.

Rate-sensitive banking stocks rose 0.8 per cent while megacap stocks such as Amazon.com Inc, Tesla and Nvidia fell, weighing on the Nasdaq.

Traders are pricing in expectations of a 50 basis points (bps) rate hike and the start of reductions to the US central bank's $US9 trillion ($A13 trillion) balance sheet when the Fed releases its statement on Wednesday.

The spotlight will be on Fed Chair Jerome Powell's news conference for fresh clues on how far and how fast the US central bank is prepared to go in an effort to bring down decades-high inflation.

"The (50 bps hike) is baked into the market. What maybe isn't is what's the eventual end point here," said Josh Wein, portfolio manager at Hennessy Funds.

"The market is still adjusting to this inflation story and the need for the Fed to be proactive... it's easy to lose sight of the fact that companies are in very good shape in aggregate and several rate hikes do not undo that dynamic."

Concerns about a hit to economic growth due to a hawkish Fed, mixed earnings from some big growth companies, the conflict in Ukraine and pandemic-related lockdowns in China have hammered Wall Street recently, with richly valued growth stocks bearing the brunt of the sell-off.

Bearish sentiment, or expectations that stock prices will fall over the next six months, rose sharply to 59.4 per cent in the latest survey by the American Association of Individual Investors.

The last time bearish sentiment went above that level was in March 2009 during the financial crisis.

In early trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 46.33 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 33,175.12, the S&P 500 was down 8.90 points, or 0.21 per cent, at 4,166.58, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 110.17 points, or 0.88 per cent, at 12,453.58.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc rose 2.7 per cent after the chipmaker forecast stronger than expected full-year and second-quarter revenue on data centre boom.

Starbucks Corp gained 5.8 per cent after the coffee chain announced quarterly comparable sales grew 12 per cent in North America.

Livent Corp surged 19.9 per cent after it posted a better than expected quarterly profit and bolstered its 2022 revenue outlook on higher demand for lithium used in electric vehicle batteries.

Airbnb Inc climbed 4.7 per cent after the holiday rental firm projected upbeat second-quarter revenue, betting on pent-up travel demand after COVID-19 curbs were eased globally.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.44-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.94-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week high and 34 new lows while the Nasdaq recorded 19 new highs and 218 new lows.

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