Wall St mixed as Fed leaves rates steady

Traders work at the New York Stock Exchange. Photo / AP
Traders work at the New York Stock Exchange. Photo / AP

Wall Street was mixed overnight, as disappointing earnings from Boeing and Apple offset a rally in oil prices, while the US Federal Reserve policy makers said they expect to lift interest rates at a "gradual" pace.

"The Committee is closely monitoring global economic and financial developments and is assessing their implications for the labour market and inflation, and for the balance of risks to the outlook," the Federal Open Market Committee said in a statement released after its first two-day policy meeting this year.

As widely expected, the Fed kept its target for the federal funds rate unchanged at 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent.

"The Committee expects that economic conditions will evolve in a manner that will warrant only gradual increases in the federal funds rate; the federal funds rate is likely to remain, for some time, below levels that are expected to prevail in the longer run," the Fed noted.

Brent jumped after Russia said it was in talks about output cuts with Saudia Arabia and other OPEC countries. Also helping oil was a report showing stockpiles at the biggest US storage hub declined for the first time in 12 weeks. Also helping oil was a report showing stockpiles at the biggest US storage hub declined for the first time in 12 weeks.

"Stocks are now trading based on economic and profit activity and oil represents a very good barometer of economic activity," James Abate, chief investment officer of Centre Funds, told Reuters.

Wall Street was mixed, having pared earlier losses. In 14.05pm trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched 0.01 percent higher. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 0.6 percent. In 13.49pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 0.2 percent.

In the Dow gains in shares of Verizon Communications and those of Goldman Sachs Group, last up 2.1 percent and 1.9 percent respectively, offset slumps in shares of Boeing and those of Apple, down 8.1 percent and 4.9 percent respectively.

Shares of Boeing slumped after the company offered a 2016 earnings outlook that fell short of expectations. The company said it expects to deliver between 740 and 745 planes this year, down from a record 762 in 2015.

Shares of Apple fell after the company posted disappointing growth in its iPhone sales.
"We are looking for March to mark the trough in year-on-year iPhone unit growth, which should provide an attractive entry point into the stock," Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a note, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, the latest US housing data offered evidence of strength in the industry. A Commerce Department report showed sales of new single-family homes jumped 10.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 544,000 units, the highest level in 10 months.

"Don't count the economy out yet with the darkening skies seen in January as world stock markets fell on worries over China and crude oil and world growth," Chris Rupkey, chief economist at MUFG Union Bank in New York, told Reuters. "Worries don't become reality."

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the session with a 0.3 percent increase from the previous close. France's CAC 40 Index advanced 0.5 percent, Germany's DAX Index added 0.6 percent, while the UK's FTSE 100 Index rose 1.3 percent.

- BusinessDesk

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