Wall Street has edged higher, supported by Facebook, Amazon and Apple, as investors await a key Federal Reserve meeting that is expected to lay the groundwork for an interest rate cut later this year.
The US central bank is expected to leave borrowing costs unchanged at its two-day policy meeting starting on Tuesday, but its statement will provide insight into the impact of the US-China trade war, President Donald Trump’s calls for a rate cut and weaker economic data.
With investors expecting a rate cut as early as July, the S&P 500 index has risen five per cent this month after tumbling in May due to fears about the US-China trade dispute.
Buttressing expectations of a rate cut this year, the New York Federal Reserve said its Empire State gauge of business growth in New York state posted a record fall this month to its weakest level in more than two-and-a-half years, suggesting an abrupt contraction in regional activity.
Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors in Chicago, said the Empire manufacturing data was “dreadful”.
“We’re back to that the idea that bad news is good news, with the Fed meeting around the corner, and that the Fed will respond with lower rates,” he said.
The Fed’s rate-setting committee is due to release its statement at 2pm local time on Wednesday, with Fed Chair Jerome Powell holding a press conference shortly after.
The S&P banks index, which tend to benefit from a rising interest rate environment, dropped one per cent, while the broader S&P 500 financial sector fell 0.93 per cent.
Volatile investor favourites Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Netflix pushed the Nasdaq higher.
The S&P 500 was up as much as 0.36 per cent during Monday’s session before giving up most of its gain in the final few minutes of trade.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 0.09 per cent higher at 26,112.53 points, while the S&P 500 also gained 0.09 per cent to close at 2889.67.
The Nasdaq Composite added 0.62 per cent to 7845.02.
Keeping the gains in check for the blue-chip Dow index was a 3.5 per cent decline in Dow Inc after brokerage BMO Capital Markets downgraded the chemicals maker’s stock to “market perform” on rising macro uncertainty.
The Philadelphia Semiconductor Index dropped 0.64 per cent, hurt by a 2.8 per cent decline in Advanced Micro Devices and a 2.43 per cent fall in Lam Research.
US chip stocks have been whipsawed in recent weeks by uncertainty related to the trade dispute, and by Washington’s move in May to blacklist Chinese technology company Huawei.
Array Biopharma surged nearly 57 per cent after Pfizer agreed to buy the drugmaker for $US10.64 billion to beef up its cancer portfolio. Pfizer was mostly unchanged.
Investors are also looking forward to the G20 summit at the end of the month for an update on the progress in talks to resolve the prolonged trade war between the US and China.
The S&P 500 posted 37 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 61 new highs and 89 new lows.
Volume so far on US exchanges was 5.67 billion shares, compared to the 6.77 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.