Stocks climb as investors await rate clarity from Fed

U.S. stocks teetered between gains and losses on Wednesday as investors awaited clarity from Federal Reserve policymakers on their monetary tightening plans against a backdrop of downbeat economic data.

The S&P 500 ticked up 0.1% after the benchmark index fell for three straight sessions. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped below breakeven, while the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.3%.

Peloton (PTON) shares surged as much 13% in after the company said it struck a deal to sell its fitness equipment and apparel on Amazon in an effort to turn its business around and regain investor confidence.

Investors are on edge over the central bank’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming later this week, where officials are likely to reiterate the Fed’s commitment to fighting inflation and curb hopes for rate cuts next year.

Despite messaging from Federal Reserve speakers in recent weeks affirming rate increases will continue into the year end, the market is still pricing a dovish pivot, Baird Investment Strategy Analyst Ross Mayfield told Yahoo Finance Live.

“I do think that all of their jawboning and hawkishness over the past couple of weeks is starting to show up,” Mayfield added. “But you still have a market that I’m not sure quite believes they’ll stick to it as the economy slows through next year.”

At the end of the Fed’s Wyoming meeting, traders will tune in for remarks from Chair Jerome Powell for clues on whether the next policy announcement September 21 will result in another 75 basis point rate hike or an eased increase of 0.50%.

U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney chat during the three-day

U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney chat during the three-day “Challenges for Monetary Policy” conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, U.S., August 23, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Crosby TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Meanwhile, shares of Nordstrom (JWN) plunged nearly 15% after the department store giant trimmed its guidance for full-year sales to a range of 5% to 7% Tuesday afternoon on slower demand and a buildup in inventory. The move comes just three months after the company raised its outlook.

“The lower-income customer segments saw significantly more pullback versus higher income segments,” Chief Executive Officer Erik Nordstrom during Tuesday’s earnings call, pointing to specific deceleration in the store’s discount Rack business.

The earnings season has winded down, but more earnings are in store for traders, with reports out of Nvidia (NVDA) and salesforce.com (CRM) due out Wednesday.

In commodity markets, crude oil futures continued to gain after Saudi Arabia on Tuesday suggested the OPEC+ alliance may make possible cuts to production. WTI crude oil futures climbed roughly 1.2% to hold above $94 per barrel, while Brent crude oil futures rose by the same margin to top $101 per barrel.

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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