Nasdaq, S&P 500 slide ahead of Fed decision

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The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq slipped on Wednesday as growth stocks lost ground, while banks gained ahead of a Federal Reserve policy decision expected to result in the biggest interest rate hike since 2000.

Six of the 11 major S&P sectors advanced in early trading, led by energy stocks. Oil prices jumped nearly 4% as the European Union spelled out plans to phase out imports of Russian oil.

Rate-sensitive banking stocks rose 0.8%, while megacap stocks such as Amazon.com Inc, Tesla and Nvidia fell, weighing on the Nasdaq.

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Traders are pricing in expectations of a 50 basis points (bps) rate hike and the start of reductions to the U.S. central bank’s $9 trillion balance sheet when the Fed releases its statement at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).

The spotlight will be on Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s news conference for fresh clues on how far and how fast the central bank is prepared to go in an effort to bring down decades-high inflation.

“The (50 bps hike) is baked into the market. What maybe isn’t is what’s the eventual end point here,” said Josh Wein, portfolio manager at Hennessy Funds.

“The market is still adjusting to this inflation story and the need for the Fed to be proactive … it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that companies are in very good shape in aggregate and several rate hikes do not undo that dynamic.”

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Concerns about a hit to economic growth due to a hawkish Fed, mixed earnings from some big growth companies, the conflict in Ukraine and pandemic-related lockdowns in China have hammered Wall Street recently, with richly valued growth stocks bearing the brunt of the sell-off.

Bearish sentiment, or expectations that stock prices will fall over the next six months, rose sharply to 59.4% in the latest survey by the American Association of Individual Investors. The last time bearish sentiment went above that level was in March 2009 during the financial crisis.

At 10:11 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 46.33 points, or 0.14%, at 33,175.12, the S&P 500 was down 8.90 points, or 0.21%, at 4,166.58, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 110.17 points, or 0.88%, at 12,453.58.

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Advanced Micro Devices Inc rose 2.7% after the chipmaker forecast stronger-than-expected full-year and second-quarter revenue on data center boom.

Starbucks Corp gained 5.8% after the coffee chain saw quarterly comparable sales grow 12% in North America.

Livent Corp surged 19.9% after it posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit and bolstered its 2022 revenue outlook on higher demand for lithium used in electric vehicle batteries.

Airbnb Inc climbed 4.7% after the vacation rental firm projected upbeat second-quarter revenue, betting on pent-up travel demand after COVID-19 curbs were eased globally.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.44-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.94-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week high and 34 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 19 new highs and 218 new lows. (Reporting by Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Shounak Dasgupta)

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