Wall St clings to records, helped by banks; tech falters

Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 2.14 percent gain in the telecom services sector.

Wall Street futures pointed to flat open on Wednesday, as indices looked set to hover near record highs while looking ahead to the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision.

Despite the fact that the US central bank was expected to announce a historic decision with the unwinding of its balance sheet, sentiment in the greenback remained weak, helping to support gold prices on Wednesday.

The Fed's projections pointed to a quarter basis point rate increase later this year, with the rate hike widely expected to come at the December meeting.

While the Nasdaq edged down 5.28 points or 0.1% to 6,456.04, the Dow rose 41.79 points or 0.2% to 22,412.59 and the S&P 500 inched up 1.59 points or 0.1% to 2,508.24.

After reaching new all-time highs during the Monday trading session, Wall Street's two main indexes - the S&P 500 and the Dow closed at record levels for yet another day.

"We had suspected that the recent softness of core inflation could persuade officials to hold off on the next rate hike until next year", said Andrew Hunter, US economist at Capital Economics.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved slightly higher ahead of the Fed announcement.

Market participants will pay to the Fed's updated and, particularly, the dot plot that anonymously maps out policymakers' individual forecast for interest rates with an eye towards whether tepid inflation has forced the central bank to give a more dovish outlook on the future path of interest rates. The average has climbed to a two-month intraday high.

Wall Street moved higher, paring some gains after rallying to record highs amid optimism about the United States economic outlook and corporate profits, as investors eyed a meeting by the Federal Reserve which is set to tighten monetary policy. "It will be like Fed Chair Janet Yellen has said, like watching paint dry".

NAR said existing home sales slumped by 1.7 percent to an annual rate of 5.35 million in August after tumbling by 1.3 percent to a rate of 5.44 million in July.

With the focus on the Fed, traders shrugged off a report from the National Association of Realtors showing an unexpected decrease in existing home sales in the month of August.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,386 to 1,005.

On the earnings front, General Mills is scheduled to report before the bell while Herman Miller is due to report after the market close.

Microsoft shares ended down 0.2 percent while Alphabet was off 0.6 percent, with both stocks seeing a pickup in volume late in the day.

Meanwhile, the major European markets moved to the upside on the day. In London, Brent crude, its global counterpart, slid 0.3% or to $US55.48 a barrel.

  • Eleanor Harrison