U.S. stocks rose modestly Wednesday morning as investors weighed another round of corporate earnings, with Apple Inc.’s better-than-expected results helping put the S&P 500 on track for a fourth straight record close.

Investors are also awaiting the outcome of a Federal Open Market Committee meeting and news conference with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell.

How are major indexes performing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average

DJIA, +0.16%

 rose 41 points, or 0.2%, to 26,634, while the S&P 500 index

SPX, +0.08%

climbed 4 points, or 0.2%, to 2,950, surpassing its previous intraday record high of 2,949.52. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index 

COMP, +0.35%

saw a 36-point rise, a gain of 0.7%, to 8,132.

On Tuesday, the Dow gained around 0.2% to 26,592.91, while the S&P 500 index gained 2.8 points, or 0.1%, or to close at 2,945.83, well of its Tuesday low at 2,924.21. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 54.09 points, or 0.7%, to finish at 8,107.77, but off a low at 8,050.55.

The S&P 500 edged further into record territory with Tuesday’s action, the Nasdaq pulled back from a record finish on Monday, while the Dow began the day 0.9% away from its record closing high, set on Oct. 3.

What’s driving the market?

Dow component Apple

AAPL, +6.08%

was getting attention after the iPhone maker reported another fall in profit and revenue, but beat expectations for first-quarter performance. Moreover, Apple signaled that the worst is over for its China business, and did report momentum in its services businesses, which stock bulls see as key to the company’s growth. Shares were up 5% Wednesday morning.

First Take: Apple is optimistic, and it isn’t because of the iPhone

On the economic front, the Fed will announce the results of its monetary policy meeting at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, followed by a press conference with Chairman Powell at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.

Over the past six weeks, Fed officials have emphasized a need for patience, signaling they want to leave rates on hold until they are certain about the economic outlook. Many economists expect the Fed to remain on hold for some time, possibly through the end of 2020, while market participants have wagered on the potential for a rate cut.

Read: Powell faces tough test Wednesday as market is uneasy with his recent communication

The Fed is fully expected to remain on hold Wednesday, but Powell’s remarks will be closely watched for clues to policy makers’ thinking.

See: The case for the Fed to keep an interest-rate hike on the table revolves around financial stability

Also read: The Fed could lower an interest-rate target today. Don’t get too excited

President Donald Trump took to Twitter Tuesday in an apparent effort to jawbone the Fed into easing policy, calling on the central bank to cut rates and reinstitute quantitative easing.

Barron’s: Trump wants the Fed to cut interest rates by a full point. He should be happy it’s on hold

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of CVS Health Corp.

CVS, +5.31%

rallied 3.7% after the pharmacy and health-care services giant reported first-quarter earnings and sales that beat Wall Street expectations, while raising its outlook for the full-year 2019.

Estée Lauder Cos. Inc.

EL, +1.66%

shares surged 2.5%, after the makeup manufacturer reported first-quarter sales that beat analyst expectations, while predicting revenue would grow between 7% and 8% during the full-year 2019.

Molson Coors Brewing Co.

TAP, -6.98%

fell 4.3%, after the company reported first-quarter earnings that fell short of forecasts.

Shares of Humana Inc.

HUM, -1.52%

retreated 3.7%, even after the insurer reported first-quarter earnings and revenue Wednesday morning that topped Wall Street expectations, while also raising its full-year guidance.

Yum! Brands Inc.

YUM, -3.22%

stock fell 1.9% Wednesday morning, after the Taco Bell parent reported first-quarter results.

Chip group Qualcomm Inc.

QCOM, +1.89%

social-gamer Zynga Inc.

ZNGA, -0.97%

wearables maker FitBit Inc.

FIT, +0.00%

 and mobile payment group Square Inc.

SQ, +1.54%

 will report after the close.

Read: Qualcomm short sellers are out in full force ahead of earnings

Check out: Qualcomm earnings, schmernings: Tell us more about the Apple settlement

What are analysts saying?

“Global stock markets are edging higher ahead of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s rate decision. Despite President Trump’s calls for interest rate cuts, Fed chair Jerome Powell is widely expected to keep interest rates on hold,” said Mihir Kapadia, chief executive and founder of Sun Global Investments, in emailed comments. “With the global economy still a source of uncertainty for investors, many will be reassured by this more dovish sentiment.”

What else is on the economic calendar?

Payroll firm ADP released its estimate of private-sector job growth in April, showing the U.S. economy added 275,000 new jobs, well above the 176,000 consensus estimate, according to FactSet. However, Mark Zandi, Moody’s Analytics chief economist and architect of the ADP report said that the figure “overstates the case” of job growth and predicted that Friday’s official government job report will show less robust employment growth.

Markit’s manufacturing purchasing managers index for April came in at 52.6, a slight uptick from the near two-year low seen last month, and above consensus expectations for a reading of 52.4, according to FactSet.

The more closely watched Institute for Supply Management manufacturing index came in at 52.8%, well below consensus expectations of 54.7%, according to a MarketWatch poll of economists, and below the March reading of 55.3%.

The Commerce Department said construction spending fell by 0.9% in March, compared with February, below economists expectations of a 0.4% decline, per a MarketWatch survey.

How are other markets faring?

Most stock markets in Asia were closed for holidays, though Australia’s S&P/ASX 200

XJO, +0.80%

closed up 0.8%, while New Zealand’s NZK-50

NZ50GR, -0.47%

fell 0.5%. European stock markets were also largely closed for May Day celebrations, while The U.K’s FTSE 100

UKX, -0.35%

was edging lower.

The price of crude oil

CLM9, -0.41%

was on the decline Wednesday, along with gold prices

GCM9, -0.01%

The U.S. dollar

DXY, -0.21%

was also retreating, relative to its peers.

Providing critical information for the U.S. trading day. Subscribe to MarketWatch’s free Need to Know newsletter. Sign up here.

Source link