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Stocks waver with all eyes on Fed meeting


U.S. stocks moved higher Wednesday after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by quarter percentage point amid a fast-moving banking crisis.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) added 0.2%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) traded up 0.1%. Contracts on the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) gained 0.4%.

U.S. government bond yields dipped. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield slid to 3.52%, while on the front end of the yield curve, two-year yields dropped 4.0%. Oil prices gained, with WTI crude up to $70 a barrel.

The Federal Reserve’s policy-making committee, headed by Chair Jerome Powell, took center stage Wednesday. The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark rate 0.25% to 4.75%-5% target range, citing some additional policy firming may be appropriate. Additionally, the Fed will continue the same of pace of reducing treasury and MBS holdings.

This call comes as market expectations have skewed firmly toward a 25-basis point rate hike or no move at all. The shift has been spurred by recent turmoil in the banking sector and the European Central Bank’s decision to hike rates by 50 basis points last Thursday.

The move came amid calls for central banks on both sides of the Atlantic to dial back on policy tightening in light of the banking crisis. Ahead of the U.S. policy meeting, markets are pricing in an 87% probability of a 25-basis point hike by the Fed – according to the CME FedWatch Tool.

The Fed releases its decision and economic projections at 2 p.m. ET, and Powell gives a statement and takes questions starting around 2:30 p.m. ET.

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 08: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies before the House Committee on Financial Services on Capitol Hill on March 08, 2023 in Washington, DC. During the hearing Powell took questions on a range of topics pertaining to the Federal Reserve's Semi-Annual Monetary Policy Report and the state of the economy.  (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 08: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell testifies before the House Committee on Financial Services on Capitol Hill on March 08, 2023 in Washington, DC. During the hearing Powell took questions on a range of topics pertaining to the Federal Reserve’s Semi-Annual Monetary Policy Report and the state of the economy. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Regulators have taken pains to emphasize the banking system is stable. On Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the U.S. banking system is “sound” but additional rescue arrangements “could be warranted” if new failures pose risks to financial stability.

Bank sentiment slid on Wednesday after surging Tuesday amid Yellen’s comments. Regional bank stocks including First Republic Bank (FRC), PacWest Bancorp (PACW), Western Alliance Bancorporation (WAL), Regions Financial (RF), and Zions Bancorporation (ZION) all traded lower.

Separately, PacWest said it secured $1.4 billion in new cash from a firm backed by Apollo. The regional lender saw deposits drop 20% since the start of the new year.

Big bank stocks slipped, as Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC) and Citigroup (C) all traded down Wednesday morning.

Meanwhile, despite a $30 billion cash lifeline last week to First Republic, news reports are swirling that Wall Street executives and US officials are in talks over a new rescue plan to restore investor confidence and potentially ensure a buyer.

UBS Group AG (UBS) has offered to buy back 2.75 billion euros ($3 billion) worth of bonds that were issued days before the weekend’s forced marriage between UBS and Credit Suisse, Bloomberg reported. At the same time, Credit Suisse (CS) was ordered by the Swiss government to temporarily suspend certain forms of variable bonuses for its employees.

Here are other trending tickers on Yahoo Finance:

  • Nike (NKE): The sports apparel brand announced a dramatic fiscal third-quarter revenue beat of 8%, while earnings per share came in higher at 79 cents compared to expectations of 54 cents. Bloated inventory levels had been a concern for the company, but that appears to be reversing.

  • GameStop (GME): The meme stock reported after hours Tuesday sales came in 2% ahead of estimates. The retailer posted a surprise adjusted earnings per share of 16 cents compared to analysts’ expectations of a loss of 15 cents per share.

  • AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. (AMC): Shares are trading higher amid the strength posted by GameStop earnings. Both stocks often move in tandem, as this duo is popular among retail investors who tend to heavily short stocks.

  • Coinbase (COIN): Bitcoin’s rally is fueling a bounce in shares of Coinbase amid reignited interest in digital assets.

  • XRP USD (XRP-USD): The altcoin ripple has surged 13% in the past 24 hours to $0.45 amid the ongoing case between XRP and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US.

On the earnings calendar, results from Chewy (CHWY) and KB Home (KBH) are set for release on Wednesday.

Dani Romero is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @daniromerotv

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