MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Aim For Fresh Records As Fed Meeting Steals Focus

By Sara Sjolin, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Dollar slips as FOMC prepares to kick off two-day meeting

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U.S. stocks were set to push further into record territory on Tuesday, with futures moving cautiously higher as investors eagerly waited for the Federal Reserve meeting to kick off.

Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up by 14 points to 22,313, while those for the S&P 500 index climbed 1.05 points to 2,503.75. Futures for the Nasdaq-100 Index added 2.25 points to 5,989.

The subtle moves came after the Dow average notched its 40th record close of the year on Monday (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dow-sp-500-line-up-for-fresh-records-to-start-the-week-2017-09-18), while the S&P 500 index ended at an all-time high for the 35th time in 2017. The Nasdaq Composite Index also rose, ending Monday at its second-highest close ever.

"The increasingly positive market sentiment remains on track as the Federal Reserve begins its two- day meeting today. This prospect could begin to pull traders to the sidelines over the next day and a half, but for now there is a risk positive theme running through the markets," said Richard Perry, market analyst at Hantec Markets, in a note.

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.#

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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)

"Analysts expect the Fed to keep the possibility of a December interest rate hike on the table," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior market analyst, at London Capital Group, in a note.

"The probability of a December rate hike rose to 50%, too low to trigger a panic across the stock markets yet too high to be ruled out by the currency and money markets," she added.

The dollar gave up some of its recent gains ahead of the Fed meeting, with the ICE Dollar Index down 0.2% at 91.885 on Tuesday.

Other economic news: August housing starts and building permits are due at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time. The import price index for August and the current account data for the second quarter are also slated for release at 8:30 a.m.

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

Stock movers: Shares of Equifax Inc.(EFX) gave up 3.4% ahead of the bell, putting the credit-reporting company's stock on track to extend a huge selloff sparked by its disclosure of a massive data breach.

Shares of Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) could also be active 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.

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) were slightly lower.

Oil prices rose, while gold inched higher but most other metals declined.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 19, 2017 05:38 ET (09:38 GMT)