Wall Street hovers near record highs before tech earnings, Fed meeting

(Reuters) – Wall Street indexes hovered near record highs on Monday in a week packed with heavyweight technology earnings, with investors staying away from big bets in the runup to a policy meeting by the Federal Reserve.

FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign is pictured outside the New York Stock Exchange in New York, October 28, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

All three major indexes hit a record high before losing momentum to trade flat. Strength in the second-quarter earnings season has helped markets weather recent concerns over the Delta variant of COVID-19.

Tesla, which rose 3.2%, is set to report earnings after the market closes on Monday. Other heavyweights, including Alphabet Inc, Apple Inc,, Facebook and Microsoft Corp, will report earnings through the week.

Of the S&P 500 constituents, 124 companies have reported earnings so far and roughly 88.7% of them have beaten estimates, according to Refinitiv data.

“Everybody is expecting earnings to be robust mainly due to easy comparables from last year, and if that trend were to change, it would definitely be a negative for markets,” said Sean O’Hara, president at Pacer ETFs.

A two-day meeting of the Fed starting on Tuesday will be watched by investors for more clues on the central bank’s planned tightening of monetary policy, given that inflation has been rising sharply in recent months.

While fears of earlier-than-expected tightening by the central bank have rattled markets this year, the Fed is widely expected to keep policy static at accommodative levels this week.

“The Fed is not going to be explicit in its language and the market is going to pay more keen attention to the more local voices from the Fed to get a better idea on the interest rate cycle,” O’Hara said.

“If we start seeing any signs of a less supportive Fed, it’ll be a cause for concern.”

At 12:03 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 19.22 points, or 0.05%, at 35,080.77, the S&P 500 was up 7.36 points, or 0.17%, at 4,419.15. The Nasdaq Composite was up 10.73 points, or 0.07%, at 14,847.73.

U.S.-listed Chinese stocks sank after Beijing last week announced new rules on private tutoring and online education firms, the latest in a series of crackdowns on the technology sector that have roiled financial markets.

E-commerce major Alibaba Group and search engine Baidu Inc, two of the largest listed Chinese stocks in the United States, slipped 6.3% and 5.4%, respectively.

Recent losses in Chinese stocks have been steeper than those recorded during the height of the Sino-U.S. trade war in 2018, mainly due to Beijing’s targeting of large technology firms.

Graphic: Chinese stocks under regulatory fire:

Among major earnings, toymaker Hasbro Inc surged 11.5% after it posted a better-than-expected 54% jump in quarterly revenue.

UK-based Insurance broker AON Plc rose 8.4% after agreeing to terminate its $30 billion merger agreement with rival Willis Towers Watson Plc, whose shares fell 7.5%.

Weapons maker Lockheed Martin Corp fell 3.2% after a classified aeronautics development program caused the firm to miss profit estimates.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.36-to-1 ratio on the NYSE. Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.21-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 43 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 67 new highs and 109 new lows.

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