MARKET SNAPSHOT: Dow Aims For 6th Straight Record As Fed Comes Into Focus

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch , Ryan Vlastelica Features Dow Jones Newswires

Dollar slips as FOMC kicks off two-day meeting

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U.S. stock indexes climbed to record highs on Tuesday, as investors awaited the start of a two-day meeting of Federal Reserve policy makers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 52 points, or 0.2%, to 22,383, hitting a record high. On Monday, the blue-chip average notched its 40th record close of the year (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dow-sp-500-line-up-for-fresh-records-to-start-the-week-2017-09-18). It is currently on track for its eighth straight daily gain, its longest streak since August, as well as its sixth straight record close.

The S&P 500 index rose 3.5 points, or 0.1%, to 2,507, setting an intraday record at 2,508.32. The S&P also ended at a record on Monday, its 35th of 2017. If the benchmark index ends higher on Tuesday, that will mark its sixth positive session of the past seven.

The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 8 points to 6,462, a gain of 0.1%. The tech-heavy index, which is currently up about 20% year-to-date, briefly dipped into negative territory in early trading, though it subsequently recovered. It is a few points from its intraday record.

Financial stocks were among the biggest gainers of the day, with the sector up about 0.7%, the biggest advance among the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors. The group was driven by insurance names; Progressive Corp. (PGR) was the biggest gainer in the industry, up 2.9%. Allstate Corp.(ALL) rose 0.6%.

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"Markets are paying attention to what they should be paying attention and that is earnings growth," said Karyn Cavanaugh, senior market strategist at Voya Financial.

Cavanaugh did not rule out pullbacks in the near future, but noted that investors should not worry about the Federal Reserve's plan to reduce its balance sheet.

"Any reduction in the Fed balance sheet will be gradual and it is happening on the backdrop of improving economy in the U.S. and globally. But at the same time, we don't know how the market will react because we have never had this situation before," Cavanaugh said.

The Federal Open Market Committee is widely expected to say it will start reducing its $4.5 trillion portfolio of government securities when it releases its policy update on Wednesday. Rates are forecast to stay on hold, but traders will be looking hints if more hike are coming later in the year.

Read:Fed's balance-sheet unwind will be moment of truth for financial markets (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/feds-balance-sheet-unwind-will-be-moment-of-truth-for-financial-markets-2017-09-18)

The dollar gave up some of its recent gains ahead of the Fed meeting, with the ICE Dollar Index down 0.3% at 91.78 on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump gave his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, and at one point stated that the U.S. was "ready, willing and able" to act against North Korea militarily, and that the U.S. would "totally destroy" the country if necessary. Markets were little impacted by the speech.

Read MarketWatch's live blog of the address (http://blogs.marketwatch.com/capitolreport/2017/09/19/president-donald-trump-speaks-to-the-united-nations-live-blog-and-video/)

Other economic news: So-called housing starts slipped (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/housing-starts-dip-in-august-but-permits-surge-in-sign-of-optimism-2017-09-19)0.8% to an annual rate of 1.18 million in August from an upwardly revised 1.19 million in July. Permits to build new homes jumped 5.7% to a 1.3 million rate, matching the level in January and marking the second highest amount since 2007.

The import-price index (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/cost-of-imported-goods-surge-in-august-led-by-fuel-2017-09-19)jumped 0.6% last month to match the biggest increase since January, largely due to higher oil prices.

See:MarketWatch's economic calendar (http://www.marketwatch.com/economy-politics/calendars/economic)

Stock movers: Shares of Equifax Inc.(EFX) gave up 0.3%, putting the credit-reporting company's stock on track to extend a selloff sparked by its disclosure of a massive data breach. The stock has lost nearly 35% thus far this month.

Shares of Best Buy Co. Inc.(BBY) dropped 6.8% after its earnings outlooks fell short of expectations.

AutoZone Inc.(AZO) fell 5% despite the auto parts retailer reported earnings and revenue that beat forecasts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/autozones-stock-rallies-after-profit-and-sales-rise-above-expectations-2017-09-19). The auto parts retailer said its same-store sales grew at 1% instead of 1.6% increased forecast by analysts.

Shares of Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) rose 0.6% after the company and Plains All American Pipeline LP(PAA) said late Monday they will drop a deal for Valero to acquire two California distribution terminals (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/valero-plains-all-american-drop-deal-after-california-lawsuit-2017-09-18) after interference from the state's attorney general. Shares of Plains gained 0.4%.

Michael Kors Holdings Ltd.(KORS) shares jumped after Oppenheimer analysts upgraded the stock to outperform from perform.

Other markets: Asian markets closed mixed, while European stocks (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/european-stocks-slip-as-traders-wait-for-fed-rate-update-2017-09-19) ended with modest gains.

Oil prices gave up gains to trade lower (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/oil-resumes-climb-on-talk-of-extended-production-cut-2017-09-19), and gold inched higher (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-stalls-at-three-week-low-as-feds-signals-on-late-year-policy-awaited-2017-09-19) but most other metals declined.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 19, 2017 15:10 ET (19:10 GMT)