The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500 were slightly higher on Wednesday while the Nasdaq composite edged lower, as investors assessed earning ahead of a statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve that could give clues regarding the timing of a rate hike.
Investors are focused on the outcome of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting with markets divided on whether it will take a hawkish or dovish stance. No move on rates is expected this week.
In a recent congressional testimony, Fed Chair Janet Yellen neither ruled out a September interest rate hike nor guided the market toward thinking it was a done deal. The statement is expected at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).
U.S. interest rates have remained near zero for almost a decade and the Fed has said it will raise rates once it sees a sustained recovery in the economy.
Recent concerns surrounding the Greek debt crisis and the rout in Chinese markets have prompted some investors to bet that the Fed may hold off raising rates until the end of the year.
“If the Fed continues to be relatively neutral in its tone by not dropping any hints of an imminent rate hike probably markets will continue to stabilize,” Societe Generale strategist Alvin Tan said.