Stocks Edge Higher as Fed Stands Pat

By Aaron Kuriloff and Riva Gold Features Dow Jones Newswires

The Dow Jones Industrial Average, the U.S. dollar and government bond yields edged higher Wednesday after the Federal Reserve held interest rates unchanged.

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Major indexes pared early losses after the Fed's announcement, which some investors and analysts said signaled the central bank is looking past recent signs of tepid economic growth and holding course toward raising interest rates in June.

"This is showing the Fed is dismissing the weak data -- it hasn't altered any of their plans," said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management. "And if the Fed is confident about the economic outlook, why shouldn't we be?"

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 8.01 points or 0.04% today to 20957.90. The S&P 500 slipped 3.04 points or 0.13% today to 2388.13 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 22.82 points or 0.37% today to 6072.55.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note rose to 2.309%, from 2.296% on Tuesday. The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, rose 0.5% to 90.11.

Materials shares in the S&P 500 fell 1%, weighed down by a decline in copper prices that came as growing inventories coincided with fears about slowing demand from China. Copper for May delivery dropped 3.5% to $2.5330 a pound in its biggest one-day percentage decline since Sept. 2015.

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Freeport-McMoRan lost 70 cents, or 5.5%, to $12.02. DuPont fell 94 cents, or 1.2%, to 79.00, among the biggest percentage declines in the Dow industrials.

A decline in Apple shares also dragged on major indexes after the iPhone maker late Tuesday reported an increase in profit but tepid demand for its flagship product.

Apple trimmed early declines Wednesday and closed down 45 cents, or 0.3%, at 147.06. Shares of the index-heavyweight had soared to records in recent sessions and tech stocks have been the best performer in the S&P 500 in 2017, rising 16%.

"There's quite a lot of optimism built into tech -- it was slightly less positive than people were hoping for," said John Stopford, head of multiasset income at Investec Asset Management.

Shares of Akamai Technologies fell 9.70, or 16%, to 52.80 after the cloud services company on Tuesday gave a negative outlook for the second quarter.

Shares of Mondelez International rose 1.29, or 2.9%, to 45.03 after the company said it continued to improve profitability through cost-cutting, while Delphi Automotive shares added 8.56, or 11%, to 87.01 after the company unveiled a plan to spin off its powertrain systems segment.

The Fed's signals came as the Institute for Supply Management on Wednesday said economic activity across the U.S. service sector increased in April. A gauge of private-sector hiring came in slightly above expectations, according to payroll processor Automatic Data Processing and Moody's Analytics, two days ahead of the monthly jobs report.

The Stoxx Europe 600 fell less than 0.1%, weighed down by a 2.5% drop in the basic-resources sector. The index's auto sector also pulled back 1% following downbeat U.S. auto sales figures on Tuesday.

The S&P ASX 200 fell 1% amid declines in shares of mining companies. The Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.3%.

Markets in Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong were closed for holidays.

Write to Aaron Kuriloff at aaron.kuriloff@wsj.com and Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 03, 2017 17:32 ET (21:32 GMT)