US stocks close mixed as investors await Fed guidance on interest rates

new york stock exchange
  • US stocks close mixed on Tuesday as investors anxiously await the conclusion of the Federal Reserve’s two-day policy meeting.
  • Some investors believe the central bank will raise rates sooner than expected in order to contain inflation.

US stocks closed mixed Tuesday as investors eye the conclusion of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting in which the central bank is expected to release new rate forecasts this week.

Fed chair Jerome Powell is expected to give a statement and briefing on Wednesday.

All eyes will be on the Fed chief as he makes a decision on whether to tweak the interest rate outlook, which has remained unchanged over the past year. Some investors believe the central bank will raise rates sooner than expected in to contain inflation.

After Monday’s record high on optimism of a nationwide economic recovery within reach, the Dow Jones consolidated its gains, as well as the blue-chip S&P 500. Tech-heavy Nasdaq, meanwhile, recovered recent losses, outperforming its peers.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 4 p.m. ET close on Tuesday:

Economic data published Tuesday also dampened sentiment. The Census Bureau reported that US retail sales contracted 3% in February as the effects of the stimulus petered out. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected sales to decline by 0.5% in February. This reading marks the fourth decline in just five months.

Despite this, Bank of America said record highs for the S&P 500 will occur in the next few weeks. The bank expects the index to hit a 4,270 price target derived from a bullish cup and handle pattern.

“Seasonality shines in April, which is the strongest month of the November-April period and is up 66% of the time with an average return of 1.37%,” the bank said. The bank’s seasonality analysis is based on data going back to 1928.

In equities, it was a good day for vaccine companies. Moderna soared 6% as it begins vaccine testing in babies and children. AstraZeneca also saw some gains after the company landed a rating upgrade to “buy” from “hold” and a price-target increase at Jefferies.

GameStop for its part tumbled 50% from its March 10 intraday record. Reddit traders however continue to hold the stock.

Gold rose 0.07% to $1,732.62 per ounce as US treasury yields eased.

Oil prices headed south. West Texas Intermediate crude slipped 1.06% to $64.69 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, also fell 0.78%, to $68.32 per barrel.

Bitcoin also continued its tumble, edging lower by 1.64% to $55,551 after scaling above the $61,000-level over the weekend.