August 16, 2022

Wall Street Lackluster at the Open

Stocks on Wall Street opened broadly unchanged on Thursday after a seven-day winning streak and a jobless claims report that provided little insight into the Federal Reserve’s decisions about stimulus policy.

In early trading the Standard Poor’s 500-share index was 0.1 percent lower, the Dow Jones industrial average was flat and the Nasdaq composite 0.1 percent.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits slipped 31,000 to a seasonally adjusted 292,000, the lowest level since 2006 and well below expectations of 330,000 new claims.

But the data was skewed due to technical problems in claims processing because two states were upgrading their computer systems and did not process all the claims they received during the week, muddying the last major reading on the labor market before the Federal Reserve’s next meeting.

The distorted data has made it hard for investors to reach any conclusions about the labor market, said Gordon Charlop, a managing director at Rosenblatt Securities in New York.

“But the fact of the matter remains, the direction is obviously towards tapering, which is really a good thing,” Mr. Charlop said. The question is, how measured the Fed will be in reducing stimulus, he added, “and you have to think they are going to err on the side of caution. They will be very measured in their approach and won’t do anything precipitous.”

The S. P. 500 has risen 3.4 percent over the past seven sessions, its longest winning streak in two months, as concerns about a Western military strike against Syria have faded and stocks have been buoyed by stronger-than-expected economic data from China.

The United States will insist Syria take rapid steps to show it is serious about abandoning its chemical arsenal, senior United States officials said, as Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Geneva for talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of Russia.

United States export prices fell 0.5 percent in August, its sixth straight monthly decline, while import prices remained flat. Expectations were for export prices to rise 0.1 percent and import prices to climb 0.4 percent.

Employment is a key component of the central bank’s planning for economic stimulus, known as quantitative easing.

The Fed will hold a two-day policy meeting ending next Wednesday when a decision is expected about whether to make changes to its current bond purchases of $85 billion a month to boost the economy.

The weakened dollar saw the euro push hold around $1.3309 as it recovers from the selloff seen last week last week following the European Central Bank’s commitment to maintain loose monetary policy despite signs of recovery in the euro area.

While the dollar bought 99.50 yen, down about 0.4 percent. It has moved away from Wednesday’s high of 100.60 yen, which was the highest since July 22, according to Reuters data.

European markets were mixed, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index up 0.1 percent. In Asia, markets were mainly higher, with the Shanghai composite ending the session up 0.6 percent.

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Markets Rise as Traders Weigh Employment Data

Stocks on Wall Street edged higher on Thursday, putting equities on track for a third consecutive session of gains, as a flurry of economic data pointed to improving economic conditions.

Gains were limited, however, with many investors reluctant to make big bets going into Friday’s payroll report, and with the prospect of a Western-led strike against Syria still uncertain.

In afternoon trading, the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index was 0.2 percent higher, the Dow Jones industrial average also gained 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq composite was 0.3 percent higher.

While the data was positive, it did little to alter investor speculation about when the United States Federal Reserve might begin to ease its accommodative monetary policies, credited with spurring the equity market’s gains in 2013.

“Equities are stuck right now, and there won’t be conviction for buyers or sellers until we get more clarity,” said Todd M. Schoenberger, managing partner at LandColt Capital in New York.

The ADP National Employment Report showed that private employers added 176,000 jobs in August, nearly matching expectations for a gain of 180,000 jobs, while weekly initial jobless claims fell more than expected to a seasonally adjusted 323,000.

Separately, the Institute for Supply Management’s read on the services sector rose more than expected in August, while factory orders fell less than had been anticipated.

European shares ended the day higher, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index up 0.5 percent, and Asian markets closed mostly higher, helped by the Bank of Japan’s decision to continue its stimulus program.

In a positive sign of near-term upward momentum, the S. P. 500 closed above its 100-day moving average for the first time since Aug. 26 on Wednesday. It also closed above its 14-day moving average for the first time since Aug. 8.

After falling 3.1 percent in August, its worst monthly performance since May 2012, the S. P. 500 has kicked off September with a 1.5 percent advance thus far.

Market movement has recently been driven by the likelihood of a Western-led strike against Syria in retaliation for a possible chemical weapons attack against civilians; on Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee backed a resolution supporting a strike.

Investors have been especially focused on any possible effect on oil supplies. Benchmark crude oil rose 0.8 percent, to $107.99 a barrel, extending its gains over the last two weeks.

“Until we have clear certainty on what will happen, it will be hard for the market to focus on anything but Syria for long,” Mr. Schoenberger said. “Will a war impact what the Fed does? Should we expect oil to go to $140? This is the big issue investors have.”

On Friday, the Labor Department will release its closely watched report on nonfarm payrolls for August.

“We’ve got a wait-and-see attitude ahead of the data, which isn’t surprising given the terrific day we had yesterday,” said Art Hogan, managing director at Lazard Capital Markets in New York. “While I’m not expecting any big moves ahead of tomorrow’s data, it is a positive that we’re not giving up any of our recent gains right now.”

The European Central Bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low on Thursday, a decision that had been expected after recent economic indicators showed the euro zone economy was beginning to recover, albeit weakly.

Mario Draghi, the bank’s president, repeated that the central bank expected to keep its key rates “at present or lower levels” for an extended period, citing only “tentative signs” of economic improvement and a return of confidence in the euro zone.

Similarly, the Bank of England said it would keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record low of 0.5 percent.

Ahead of the start of the Group of 20 summit meeting, Russia and China warned that an end to the Fed’s stimulus program could have a negative effect on the global economy.

The yield on a benchmark 10-year Treasury note was down slightly, to 2.94 percent. Analysts said the rout in Treasuries in recent months could persist.

Retail stocks will be in focus as many stores will report their August sales data. Costco Wholesale reported same-store sales that beat expectations despite lower fuel prices; its shares rose 2 percent.

Astex Pharmaceuticals rose 2.5 percent after Otsuka Pharmaceutical agreed to buy the company for $886 million.

Microsoft said late on Wednesday that a jury had decided in its favor in the second of two trials in federal court concerning Motorola Mobility’s licensing of so-called standard, essential patents used in Microsoft products. Shares of Microsoft, a component of the Dow average, were up 0.5 percent.

Boeing raised its 20-year outlook for the Chinese airplane market by 6 percent, citing growing demand for single-aisle and small, wide-body planes as travel in the Asia-Pacific region has surged. Its shares rose 0.2 percent.

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Markets Lose Steam as Support Rises for Attack on Syria

Stocks on Wall Street advanced on Tuesday after President Obama decided to seek Congressional authorization before taking military action against Syria, a move that was likely to delay any strike for at least several days.

Indexes pared initial gains, and the Dow Jones industrial average slilpped into negative territory, however, after comments from several Congressional leaders indicated support for Mr. Obama.

In afternoon trading, the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index was up 0.2 percent, the Dow was off 0.1 percent and the Nasdaq composite was 0.5 percent higher.

Mr. Obama, during a meeting with Congressional leaders at the White House, called for a prompt vote on Capitol Hill and reiterated that the United States plan would be limited in scope and not repeat the country’s long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Both John A. Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House, and Eric Cantor, the House Republican majority leader, said they would support the plan, and Mr. Boehner urged his colleagues in Congress to do the same. Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader in the House, said she believed Congress would support a resolution authorizing the use of military force against Syria.

“It’s going to go up and down based on the expectations of when it is going to happen, but something is going to happen,” said Uri Landesman, President at Platinum Partners in New York. “You will see it trade down into the speculation and then once it actually happens, assuming it’s not too big, you’ll see a rally. Sell into the news, buy on the news, essentially.”

Equities have been pressured by the prospect of a Western strike against Syria after a chemical weapons attack killed hundreds of civilians. The geopolitical uncertainty contributed to steep losses in August, which was the worst month for the S. P. 500 since May 2012.

Verizon Communications agreed on Monday to pay $130 billion to buy the Vodafone Group’s stake in Verizon’s wireless business, bringing an end to an often tense 14-year union.

Shares of Verizon, a Dow component, fell 2.7 percent, while United States-traded shares of Vodafone lost 2.9 percent.

Also in deal news, Nokia agreed to sell its handset business to Microsoft for $7.2 billion, sending its United States-traded shares up 29 percent. Microsoft fell 6.1 percent.

Markets on Wall Street were closed on Monday for Labor Day, and recent light trading volume could continue with many traders away for the holiday.

In the S. P., investors will be watching the 100-day moving average at 1,639.42, which the index has been unable to close above since Aug. 26. Holding over that level would be a positive sign of near-term momentum.

While the uncertainty related to Syria has been the market’s primary driver in recent sessions, investors will also pay close attention to the latest economic data, which could provide some insight into when the Federal Reserve might begin to slow its monetary stimulus program.

In other company news, the CBS Corporation reached an agreement on Monday with Time Warner Cable to end a monthlong blackout of its stations in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Shares of both companies rose: CBS by 4 percent and Time Warner Cable by 1.6 percent.

Wall Street stocks have been coming off an extended period of weakness, with all three major indexes falling more than 1 percent last week and posting steep losses in August.

Asian markets were broadly higher, with the Nikkei index as the region’s standout performer. It surged 3 percent, to a three-week high, helped by a weaker yen, hopes of continued government stimulus and talk that Japan could win the right to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

European shares slumped by the end of the trading session, with the FTSEurofirst 300 down 0.4 percent at the bell.

American crude oil futures, down earlier in the day, rose 70 cents a barrel, to $108.35, in the afternoon. Oil had risen 2.5 percent in August, with the increase largely driven by concerns that military action in the Middle East would affect crude supplies.

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Wall Street Gains in Early Trading

Wall Street closed higher on Wednesday after two straight days of declines, as a rise in oil prices lifted energy shares after the United States and its allies appeared prepared to attack Syria, heightening concerns over global oil supplies.

By the end of trading, the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index and the Dow Jones industrial average were 0.3 percent higher and the Nasdaq composite was up 0.4 percent.

Selling pressure waned on equities in the wake of Tuesday’s sell-off, the market’s worst day since June. The slide was prompted by tensions over a possible military response to a chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians that the United States and its allies blamed on President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

The S. P. 500 index fell 2 percent in the prior two days and the C.B.O.E. Volatility Index rose 20 percent, reflecting investor uncertainty.

“Yesterday was a little overdone but investors need to be ready that volatility is going to be here for a while,” said Ron Florance, deputy chief investment officer at Wells Fargo Private Bank in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“We have this struggle between the short-term news and the longer term trends and that is always a recipe for volatility until the market can really find direction,” he said.

Benchmark crude in the United States hit its highest price in more than two years on concerns that foreign military action in Syria may further destabilize the Middle East.

The S. P. energy index rose 1.8 percent to lead the top 10 S. P. sectors. Chevron rose 2.5 percent, and Exxon Mobil gained 2.4 percent, both pushing the S. P. 500 and Dow industrial average higher.

In contrast, the concerns over higher oil prices dented airline stocks, with the N.Y.S.E. Arca airline index off 0.5 percent after stumbling 3.9 percent in the prior session.

European stocks were down for a third day, as concerns about a reduction in bond buying by the Federal Reserve and a political crisis in Italy added to the concerns over Syria.

Investors are worried about rapidly rising energy costs as a result of the impending conflict and their effect on consumers, and that progress in efforts to rein in the United States deficit may begin to reverse, said Richard Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City.

“The market has reset to a lower level to reflect that,” Mr. Meckler said. Investors expect a “contained” strike on Syria, he said, “but only the actual action and reaction will determine that. The biggest fear here is a much wider conflict.”

By the market close,United States crude was at $109.38 a barrel.

Gold, trading at $1420.60 an ounce, briefly rose to a three-and-a-half-month high, above $1,430 an ounce, as the Syria tensions raised its appeal.

In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of blue chip shares closed down 0.28 percent on Wednesday. The euro fell 0.3 percent against the dollar, to $1.3353. Asian shares also felt the effect of the developments in Syria, with markets lower throughout the region at the end of trading.

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Stocks Rise on Positive Reports From China and Europe

Wall Street markets were disrupted on Thursday when trading on the Nasdaq halted Thursday afternoon because of a problem in distributing stock price quotes.

Traffic on the exchange stopped at 12:14 p.m. Eastern time, the exchange said on its Web site. Options trading was also halted, the exchange said. Nasdaq was not immediately available for comment. Trading continued on the New York Stock Exchange.

Before the disruption, Wall Street was trading higher, as solid economic figures out of China and Europe helped lift the mood in a week when investors have been largely fretting over when the Federal Reserve would start to reduce its monetary stimulus program.

Shortly after 2 p.m., the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index was 0.7 percent higher, and the Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.4 percent. When it halted trading, the Nasdaq composite was up 0.9 percent.

Though the minutes of the last Fed policy meeting, published on Wednesday, showed that most officials appeared comfortable with the idea of starting to reduce the stimulus this year, there was less clarity over whether the so-called tapering would begin in September or December. The Fed has been purchasing $85 billion of financial assets a month to help keep interest rates low and spur growth.

Better-than-expected figures out of China and Europe helped investors to focus on something different.

A survey from HSBC provided further evidence that China, the world’s second-largest economy, may be over its recent soft patch. Its monthly purchasing managers’ index — a gauge of business activity — rose to 50.1 points for August from 47.7 in July. Numbers above 50 indicate an expansion in activity.

The monthly composite purchasing managers’ index for the 17-country euro zone, which includes both manufacturing and services, rose to 51.7 in August from 50.4. The index, published by financial information company Markit, is now at its highest level since June 2011, providing evidence that the euro zone recovery from recession is gathering pace.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 0.9 percent at 6,446.87 while Germany’s DAX rose 1.4 percent to 8,397.89. The CAC 40 in France ended 1.1 percent higher at 4,059.12.

On Wednesday, United States stocks had a very volatile day as investors digested the Fed minutes. After dropping sharply, they recovered to briefly trade higher before ending up modestly down. The dollar was also volatile, but it remains largely on the ascendant as traders price in the prospect of Fed tapering as soon as next month.

The euro was slightly higher, at $1.3361, while the dollar rose 0.9 percent to 98.55 yen.

Earlier in Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.4 percent, to 21,895.40 points. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.4 percent, to 13,365.17, while South Korea’s Kospi lost 1 percent, to 1,849.12.

The benchmark index in the Philippines dived 6 percent, catching up with earlier losses in regional markets after being closed because of flooding that submerged large parts of Manila, the capital.

Oil prices moved higher, with the benchmark New York rate up $1.18 at $105.03 a barrel.

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Markets Slump Despite Some Positive Reports

Markets drifted on Thursday amid mixed economic and corporate news around the world and as investors paused to reflect after Wall Street’s failure to make new highs.

In afternoon trading, the Standard Poor’s 500-share index was 0.2 percent higher, the Dow Jones industrial average was unchanged and the Nasdaq composite was up 0.6 percent.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares ended the day down 0.5 percent even after official figures showed that the British economy grew by a quarterly 0.6 percent in the second quarter, its fastest rate in nearly two years. Germany’s DAX was down 1 percent despite the closely watched Ifo index pointing to solid growth in Europe’s economy. The CAC 40 in France was 0.2 percent lower.

United States economic figures failed to move the markets much, with a bigger-than-expected 4.2 percent surge in durable goods orders in June downplayed because it was largely a result of elevated aircraft sales. And a 7,000 increase in weekly jobless claims was more or less in line with expectations.

The latest run of corporate earnings around the world also failed to excite. Though a number of companies like Facebook have impressed, investors have not shown much willingness to push markets higher on the back of corporate earnings. Among the latest releases, Facebook (shares up 27 percent on Thursday) and General Motors (shares down 0.9 percent) impressed, but the German chemical company BASF (United States-traded shares down 3.1 percent) disappointed.

Some results “are being used as an opportunity to sell at the current highs, creating another opportunity to buy the dips,” said Craig Erlam, market analyst at Alpari.

China’s weak manufacturing figures from Wednesday continued to weigh on sentiment in Asia. China’s slowdown is in large part self-induced. Its leaders are trying to shift the basis of China’s growth away from reliance on exports and industrial investment in favor of consumption, which they hope will be more self-sustaining. That means large stimulus is unlikely.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average shed 1.1 percent, to 14,562.93 points, with the camera maker Canon plunging 5.4 percent after it lowered its full-year profit and sales outlook on Wednesday. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was off 0.3 percent, at 21,900.96 points, and China’s Shanghai Composite dropped 0.6 percent, to 2,021.17.

Currency markets were fairly lackluster, with the euro 0.2 percent higher, at $1.3230, and the dollar down 0.6 percent, at 99.59 yen.

The latest bout of selling of oil ground to a halt and the benchmark New York rate was 31 cents higher, at $105.70 a barrel.

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Stocks Rise, Still Bolstered by Bernanke’s Remarks

Stocks continued to rise Thursday on the Federal Reserve’s promise to extend its stimulus policies if necessary as well as upbeat American economic and corporate earnings reports.

In afternoon trading, the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index rose 0.6 percent, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.7 percent and the Nasdaq composite was 0.2 percent higher.

Also supporting markets was news that jobless claims in the United States fell 24,000 last week, to 334,000, a sign of steady job gains.

In prepared remarks to lawmakers in Congress, the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said the Fed’s timetable for reducing its bond purchases was not decided, adding that the central bank could even increase them if the economy failed to meet expectations.

The Fed wants to see substantial progress in the job market before scaling back its monthly purchases of $85 billion of government bonds and other financial assets, he said.

Expectations that the Fed might start tapering off its stimulus in September caused market jitters last month. But recent disappointing economic data has cast doubt over the likelihood of any big changes in the near future.

In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of British shares rose 1 percent to close at 6,634.36 while the CAC 40 in France gained 1.4 percent to 3,927.79. Germany’s DAX rose 1 percent to 8,337.09

Corporate earnings were mixed. Morgan Stanley shares rose 4.5 percent, boosting financial stocks, after its second-quarter profits beat expectations. I.B.M. also impressed, but Nokia shares slid 3 percent as its sales continued to drop sharply.

Google and Microsoft are due to announce results later.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 1.3 percent, to 14,808.50 points, its highest close in two months, but gains elsewhere in the region were much more modest. Australia’s SP/ASX 200 added 0.2 percent, to 4,993.40. Shares in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, India and Singapore were also higher.

Gloom over news earlier in the week that the Chinese economy, the world’s second-largest after the United States, posted its second consecutive quarter of slower growth, weighed on shares tied to China.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed early gains to close down 0.1 percent, at 21,345.22 points. Benchmarks in mainland China and Taiwan were also lower. The Shanghai Composite dropped 1.1 percent, to 2,023.40.

“The slowdown of growth in China is still the main concern,” said Linus Yip, a strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong.

In other markets, the benchmark crude contract for August delivery was up $1.44 at $107.92 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 48 cents on Wednesday.

The euro fell to $1.3080 from $1.3117 late Wednesday. The dollar rose to 100.60 yen from 99.62 yen.

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Lackluster Start on Wall Street

Stocks drifted lower on Friday, after closing at fresh record highs a day earlier, as rosy results from JPMorgan and Wells Fargo were offset by a profit warning from United Parcel Service.

In afternoon trading the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index was 0.1 percent lower, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 0.2 percent and the Nasdaq composite was flat.

The S.P. 500 and the Dow closed at record highs on Thursday, after the Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said the Fed would keep monetary policy loose for some time to lower the unemployment rate.

JPMorgan Chase, the largest American bank by assets, advanced 0.3 percent after reporting a 31 percent jump in quarterly profit as trading revenue rebounded.

Shares of Wells Fargo, the country’s largest mortgage lender, climbed 2 percent the company reported a higher-than-expected 19 percent rise in quarterly profit.

But United Parcel Service, the world’s No. 1 package delivery company, dropped 5.7 percent. It estimated second-quarter profit would be below analysts’ expectations because of overcapacity in the world freight market. Rival FedEx lost ground too, shedding 2.3 percent.

“Wells Fargo and JPMorgan have come in with better than expected numbers. U.P.S. is probably not a surprise given ongoing downward revisions in guidance,” said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist, D.A. Davidson Company in Lake Oswego, Ore. “We’ll go a little bit higher, consolidate gains, maybe take a little profit going into the weekend and investors are going to sit back and wait for the tidal wave of earnings next week.”

In Europe, markets were higher though the morning but lost steam in the afternoon, with the FTSEurofirst 300 index closing down 0.1 percent. Investors in Asia turned cautious after China’s finance minister doused hopes of fresh stimulus after he said sub-7 percent growth was acceptable for Beijing; the Shanghai composite closed 1.6 percent lower.

Data showed the seasonally adjusted Producer Price Index increased 0.8 percent last month, the Department of Labor said, above expectations calling for a 0.5 percent increase. Excluding volatile food and energy costs, core producer prices, rose 0.2 percent last month, versus expectations for a rise of 0.1 percent.

The benchmark S. P. index has risen 3.8 percent over the last six sessions. That was its longest winning streak since early March, when the index climbed for seven sessions on positive data, hopes for rosy results and signals from the Fed that it would continue to backstop the economy.

U.S.-listed shares of Infosys jumped 7.3 percent after reporting quarterly results and maintaining its revenue growth forecast.

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Awaiting the Fed, Wall Street Rises

In afternoon trading, the Standard Poor’s 500-stock index gained 0.8 percent, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.9 percent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.9 percent.

With the Fed expected to maintain the current level of bond purchases, shares of industrial, technology and consumer discretionary companies rallied. General Electric gained 1.8 percent and was among the most actively traded stocks on the New York Stock Exchange.

Traders are trying to anticipate the Fed’s timeline for winding down purchases of $85 billion per month of bonds, known as quantitative easing, that have underpinned the S.P. 500’s rally to all-time highs in May.

The expectation is that the Fed will change its rhetoric on tapering to ease the “hysteria” in the markets since talk that a change may be coming sooner than expected caught fire in May, said Peter Kenny, chief market strategist at Knight Capital in Jersey City.

“The volatility is absolutely 100 percent tied to the confluence of themes, the two themes being quantitative easing on the one hand and improving economic data on the other hand, which supports the removing of quantitative easing,” said Mr. Kenny.

The rally halted after the Fed chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said on May 22 the Fed could begin to reduce its stimulus in the “next few meetings” if the economy gains momentum and inflation remains moderate. Intraday swings by stock indexes have widened, although the S.P. 500 closed on Monday less than 1 percent below the May 22 close.

Data showed United States housing starts rose less than expected in May but the overall trend remained consistent with strength in the housing market, while consumer prices rose giving the deflation-wary Fed some respite.

The Fed’s policy won’t show major changes after the meeting, according to Todd Salamone, director of research at Schaeffer’s Investment Research in Cincinnati.

“They won’t do anything in this meeting and I think the data supports that,” Mr. Salamone said. “We remain in a holding pattern until the policy statement is released” on Wednesday afternoon.

Boeing introduced a larger version of its flagship Dreamliner aircraft at the Paris Airshow on Tuesday, sharpening the battle with rival Airbus in the market for fuel-efficient, long-distance jets. Boeing shares were up 0.7 percent.

United States-traded shares of Sony rose 3.2 percent as a hedge fund, Third Point, said it has raised its stake in the company and urged its leadership to create an independent board to run a partially spun-off entertainment arm.

Shares of Hormel Foods, the meat processor, fell 4.6 percent after the company cut its full-year outlook.


After a calmer session for Asian markets, European shares recovered from an early dip. The FTSEurofirst 300 index ended the session down 0.1 percent.

The pickup in European shares was aided by a rise in investor sentiment in Germany, suggesting Europe’s largest economy is on the slow road to recovery, but it was only a brief distraction ahead of the Fed.

Benchmark crude was slightly higher, up 25 cents to $98.02 a barrel.

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Wall Street Unchanged in Early Trading

Wall Street was mostly unchanged in early trading Friday, but stocks looked likely to rack up a loss for the week, as investors were kept on their heels by uncertainty over how soon central banks will rein in their stimulus programs.

In early trading the Standard Poor’s 500-share index and the Dow Jones industrial average were a few points lower, and the Nasdaq composite was flat.

Worries over the longevity of monetary policy around the world has roiled markets recently and nerves were stretched further this week when the Bank of Japan decided to hold its policy steady. The extraordinary measures taken by policy makers to support the economy have helped fuel a rally that has raised the S.P. by nearly 15 percent this year.

Talk that the Federal Reserve, which meets next week, could begin reducing its bond buying later in the year has fueled a sell-off in global markets this week that has bruised stocks, bonds, emerging market assets and the dollar alike. On Wall Street, stocks have fallen during three of the past four days, and heading into Friday’s session, the S.P. 500 is down 0.4 percent on the week.

The dollar remained sluggish as trading in New York started, but it looked to have gained a foothold against the yen at around 95.15 and at $1.3297 against the euro.

On Thursday Wall Street jumped 1 percent after better-than-expected retail sales figures brought some relief to markets, but the mood was expected to remain fragile running into next week’s Fed meeting.

Philippe Gijsels, head of research at BNP Paribas Global Markets, said with growth patchy, he didn’t expect the Fed to reduce its support for the economy before the end of the year.

“If you have easy monetary policy and improving economic conditions, which will also help companies to produce good earnings, … then you have a lot of the building blocks in place” to drive stock market gains, he added.

Shares of Smith Wesson, the gun maker, rose in premarket trading after the company raised its outlook for the fourth quarter. The stock was up 5.2 percent in early trading.

Groupon climbed 7.7 percent after Deutsche Bank raised its rating to buy from hold, according to

With the impact of the sell-off on riskier assets settling, top European stocks climbed as much as 0.5 percent as they tracked a rebound in Japanese and Asian shares, before a late-morning wobble erased some of the gains.

Asian and European shares, as well as MSCI’s world index, have fallen for four straight weeks now, while for emerging market equities it has been five as a dash back to cash and core economies has taken hold.

Despite rebounding 2 percent on Friday, Japan’s Nikkei is nursing losses since mid-May of more than 15 percent. It is a slump that has been intertwined with a strong rebound in the yen which has seen its best run since early 2010 this week.

In Europe’s debt markets, southern euro zone bonds were back on the front foot after a mixed few sessions despite the Continent’s economic malaise. German and United States benchmark bonds were also up, adding to this week’s solid gains.

Rating agency Standard Poor’s helped sentiment toward the euro zone periphery as it kept Spanish government debt above junk status, although it left the country at risk of a downgrade by maintaining a negative outlook on the bonds.

It was a more stable situation in emerging markets assets too after the recent turbulence caused by the combination of central bank stimulus jitters and political unrest in countries such as Turkey and Syria.

Commodities, especially metals, have largely avoided the dramatic swings seen by equities and currencies this week but have not been completely immune to the market mood.

Copper has been hit by signs of slowing demand from China. It edged off a six-week low to $7,094 a metric tonne midday in Europe, while precious metals gold and platinum hovered near their recent lows.

Brent crude broke back above $105 a barrel for the first time in more than a month, however, and New York benchmark light sweet crude rose 0.8 percent to $97.44 a barrel, although analysts said the volatile dollar would remain a heavy influence on prices.

“The key driver of oil has been the weakness in the dollar rather than any fundamental factors,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets. “Traders are wary about pushing things higher because they are confronted with a situation of plenty of supplies when seasonal demand is supposed to pick up,” he said.

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