Stocks Waver Ahead of Fed Statement

Stocks Waver Ahead of Fed Statement

(AP) -- U.S. stocks moved between small gains and losses in midday trading Wednesday as investors waited for the latest policy statement from the Federal Reserve. Investors will be parsing the central bank's statement for any indication that the Fed is moving closer to raising its benchmark interest rate.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 10 points to 17,893 at 12:27 p.m. Eastern Time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dipped two points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 2,093. The Nasdaq composite fell three points to 5,051.

THE FED SPEAKS: The central bank is scheduled to deliver its latest economic and interest rate policy update at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. Fed policy makers have held their key interest rate close to zero for more than six years. Many economists expect the central bank will raise its rate in September if the economy keeps strengthening. Historically low rates have helped drive the six-year bull market in stocks.

THE QUOTE: "While we're certainly not anticipating any move from the zero-interest rate policy, we do expect to closely scrutinize the language as far as how they discuss the growth in the economy," said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

BACKDROP FOR A BULL: Gains for stocks and historically low interest rates have gone hand-in-hand over the last six years. Now that dynamic may change, as the Fed appears to be moving closer to raising rates. Investors fret that if the Fed raises rates too quickly it could stifle growth.

RETURN TO SENDER: FedEx shares slumped 3 percent after the package-delivery giant reported quarterly results that were below expectations and gave a mildly disappointing outlook for the next fiscal year. Thestock shed $5.46 to $176.71.

FACE LIFT: Shares in Kythera Biopharmaceuticals surged 22.2 percent on news that Botox maker Allergan has agreed to buy the California drugmaker for about $2.1 billion. The deal would add an injection that reduces "double chin" to Dublin-based Allergan's portfolio of products. Kythera jumped $13.47 to $74.19. Allergan added 99 cents to $299.01.

IN A BUYING MOOD: Medical technology company Hill-Rom Holdings climbed 7.6 percent after it agreed to buy privately held rival Welch Allyn for about $2.05 billion in a cash-and-stock deal. The stock gained $3.99 to $56.37.

EUROPEAN MARKETS: Major stock indexes in Europe moved lower as Greece remained deadlocked in talks with its international creditors. A day ahead of a meeting of the eurozone's 19 finance ministers, there was little sign of an imminent breakthrough.

Major stock indexes in Europe have slumped in the last month as the talks have failed to produce an agreement. But Greek financial markets are suffering the most.

The Greek stock market has slumped almost 18 percent this year, and the yield on the country's debt has surged. The yield on the Greek 10-year government bond has climbed to 13 percent from 5.9 percent a year ago. The yields have risen as investors have sold the bonds because they are less confident that Greece will be able to pay them back.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 55 cents to $59.41 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

BONDS ABD CURRENCIES: Bond moved lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 2.37 percent from 2.31 percent late Tuesday. The dollar was little changed against the euro at $1.1248, but gained against the Japanese yen, climbing to 124.25 yen.

(KA)