February 3, 2023

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Stocks changed little as investors await Powell's speech

Stocks changed little as investors await Powell’s speech

Stocks were flat on Wednesday as Wall Street awaited a speech this afternoon on the economy from Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

The S&P 500 is essentially unchanged, with the index looking to snap a 3-day losing streak. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 11 points, and is also trading near the flat line. Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.1%.

Traders received two reports on Wednesday morning that caused volatility in stock futures. On the one hand, the employment report indicated that the labor market may be calming, raising hopes that the Federal Reserve will slow down its aggressive campaign to raise interest rates. On the other hand, an updated reading of the GDP for the third quarter was released and showed that the economy was stronger in the last period than initially expected.

Payroll processing company ADP said on Wednesday that the private companies It just added 127,000 jobs For the month, well below the consensus estimate of 190,000 economists polled by Dow Jones.

But the Bureau of Economic Analysis also said on Wednesday that third-quarter gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 2.9%, according to its second estimate. That has been revised upward from the first estimate of 2.6%.

Powell will deliver a speech at the Brookings Institution this afternoon that may give more insight into the central bank’s thinking about future rate hikes. The Fed is due to meet later this month and is largely expected to raise interest rates by 0.5 percentage point after four consecutive 0.75 percentage point increases to tame soaring inflation. Any sign of a pivot in future interest rate hikes is likely to send the markets higher.

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“This is a Fed-made recession, so eventually when it makes the turnaround, the market has to move higher very quickly,” Grasso Global CEO Steve Grasso said on CNBC’s “Fast Money” Tuesday.

Wall Street is out of a mixed session. The Nasdaq Composite fell 0.59% and the S&P 500 lost 0.16%, marking its third consecutive negative day for both. The Dow Jones Industrial Average posted marginal gains, closing 3.07 points, or 0.01%, higher.

Stocks have been weighed down by China’s coronavirus policy and failed to fully recover from losses even as the country announced steps toward reopening, such as increasing vaccination rates for the elderly.