Dow rises 100 points ahead of Fed decision and Big Tech testimony

Stocks rose slightly on Wednesday as investors awaited a congressional hearing on antitrust in Big Tech as well as the Federal Reserve’s latest policy decision.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 100 points, or 0.4%. The S&P 500 climbed 0.8%. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 1%.

The Fed will conclude its two-day policy meeting Wednesday and is set to release a statement at 2 p.m. ET. Chairman Jerome Powell will have a press conference at 2:30 p.m. ET.

The central bank is expected to keep short-term interest rates unchanged at near zero to support the economy still struggling with the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, the Fed announced it would extend its emergency lending programs through the remainder of 2020.

“Markets continue to expect ultra-accommodative policy from the Fed, and the Fed is unlikely to disappoint at this meeting,” Bill Callahan, investment strategist at Schroders, said in an email. “Given that we are still squarely in the center of the pandemic, the only question for investors is just how dovish the Fed will be.”

Meanwhile, the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google-parent Alphabet will testify before the House Antitrust Subcommittee later Wednesday following a yearlong probe into their anti-competitive practices. Investors will look for insights on how Big Tech is handling antitrust challenges from regulators with the authority to break them up.

Shares of Big Tech are among the best performers this year. Facebook and Alphabet are both up more than 12% year to date entering Wednesday’s session. Amazon has skyrocketed 62.4% over that time and Apple is up 27%.

The busiest week of the earnings season continued, with General Electric and Boeing releasing their latest quarterly figures. GE reported a stronger-than-forecast revenue along with a wider-than-expected loss. Shares of the industrial giant fell 4.4%. Boeing also posted a wider-than-expected loss and its stock slid 3%.

Shares of Advanced Micro Devices popped more than 12% after the chipmaker posted on Tuesday better-than-expected quarterly earnings and issued upbeat guidance for the year. 

Starbucks swung to a loss during its fiscal third quarter, but the world’s largest coffee chain raised its forecast for the current quarter, sending shares up more than 3%.

“It’s clear that the worst is over for corporate profits,” said David Lefkowitz, head of equities for the Americas at UBS Global Wealth Management. “However, the pace of the recovery is still contingent on the path of the virus and further government stimulus.”

“In our view, this will be very important as a number of companies have called out how government support has been crucial to the recovery and businesses anticipate that more will be needed,” Lefkowitz said in a note. 

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