Stocks Mixed Ahead of Fed Update

(AP) -- U.S. stock indexes were drifting between small gains and losses in afternoon trading Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve's latest economic and interest rate policy update. Industrial companies, including airlines, led the gainers. Energy stocks also rose as oil prices headed higher. Technology stocks were down the most. Several packaged food companies also declined.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index slipped 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 2,505 as of 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 2 points to 22,373. The Nasdaq composite lost 15 points, or 0.2 percent, to 6,446. The three indexes hit record highs on Tuesday. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks was up 5 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,445.

THE QUOTE: "The market is basically in a holding pattern until the Fed announcement," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. "There's one thing about (Fed Chair) Janet Yellen: She does not surprise markets, so if she wants a rate hike by the end of December, she will let the market know."

FED WATCH: At the end of its two-day meeting on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve was widely expected to announce it will begin to reduce its enormous bond portfolio, which stands at $4.5 trillion. That will gradually increase long-term borrowing rates. Investors will also be listening for any update on the timing of another increase to the Fed's key interest rate. After leaving the rate at a record low for seven years after the 2008 crisis, the Fed has modestly raised it four times since December 2015 to a still-low range of 1 percent to 1.25 percent. Some analysts foresee another increase could come by December.

P[L1] D[0x0] M[300x250] OOP[F] ADUNIT[] T[]

TECH SLIDE: Technology companies declined. Apple fell $3.12, or 2 percent, to $155.61, Western Digital slid $4.39, or 4.9 percent, to $85.53.

BEYOND DISAPPOINTED: Shares in Bed Bath and Beyond plunged 15.6 percent after the home goods retailer reported that its latest quarterly sales at stores open at least a year, a key metric for retailers, fell short of analysts' forecasts. The stock lost $4.23 to $22.81.

HURRICANE IMPACT: The National Association of Realtors said that sales of previously occupied U.S. homes fell 1.7 percent in August. Sales were hurt by a worsening shortage of homes for sale, a trend exacerbated by the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey's strike on Texas and Louisiana last month. Over the past 12 months, U.S. home sales have risen only 0.2 percent. The report pulled down homebuilder shares. Hovnanian Enterprises was down the most, losing 4 cents, or 2.3 percent, to $1.72.

CLOUD CONCERNS: Adobe Systems fell 4 percent. While the business software company posted solid quarterly results, investors were concerned about the performance of its cloud business. The stock slid $6.28 to $150.32.

UNAPPETIZING RESULTS: General Mills tumbled 5.5 percent after the cereal maker's latest quarterly results fell short of Wall Street's expectations. The stock was down $3.07 to $52.31. General Mills' woes were weighing on other food companies. Kellogg was off 90 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $64.97, while Campbell Soup lost 88 cents, or 1.9 percent, to $46.44. J.M. Smucker shed $2.60, or 2.4 percent, to $106.91.

BIG GAINERS: Industrials companies were among the biggest gainers. FedEx climbed $4.12, or 1.9 percent, to $220.12. American Airlines Group rose 87 cents, or 2 percent, to $45.25.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.24 percent from 2.25 percent late Tuesday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added $1.05, or 2.1 percent, to $50.53 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was up $1.13, or 2 percent, to $56.27 a barrel in London. The pickup in oil prices helped lift energy stocks. Chesapeake Energy added 17 cents, or 4.1 percent, to $4.21, while Marathon Oil rose 46 cents, or 3.8 percent, to $12.46.

CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 111.45 yen from 111.50 yen on Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.2002 from $1.1997.

MARKETS OVERSEAS: In Europe, Germany's DAX rose 0.1 percent, while the CAC 40 in France added 0.1 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was flat. In Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 added 0.1 percent and South Korea's Kospi slipped 0.2 percent. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.4 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.1 percent.

(BE)

P[L2] D[728x90] M[320x50] OOP[F] ADUNIT[] T[]
P[R1] D[300x250] M[300x250] OOP[F] ADUNIT[] T[]
P[R2] D[300x250] M[320x50] OOP[F] ADUNIT[] T[]
DIM[1x3] LBL[article-box] SEL[] IDX[] TMPL[standalone] T[]
P[R3] D[300x250] M[0x0] OOP[F] ADUNIT[] T[]