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Pre-Fed jitters keep S&P 500, Nasdaq below record highs

3 minute read

A Wall Street sign is pictured outside the New York Stock Exchange in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

  • U.S. shares of Chinese tutoring firms drop
  • Oracle falls as profit forecast disappoints
  • Indexes: Dow dips 0.04%, S&P flat, Nasdaq up 0.21%

June 16 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq drifted just below record highs on Wednesday, with investors on edge before potential hints from the Federal Reserve on when it would taper its massive monetary stimulus.

The Fed has previously tried to assuage concerns that rising inflation would prompt it to tighten its ultra-loose monetary policy, but data on Tuesday showing a jump in producer prices has again raised expectations the central bank could begin debating closing the taps at its meeting this week.

Inflation concerns have dominated markets in recent weeks even as strong corporate earnings and the gradual reopening of the U.S. economy have helped the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq reach all-time highs.

"You could see a knee-jerk reaction where the market sells off (if the Fed talks about tapering) and once the uncertainty clears, the market will start to rally again," said Shawn Snyder, head of investment strategy at Citi Personal Wealth Management.

"There is a lot of discussion about tapering as if it's going to cause a market calamity but to me, anytime you get clarity on policy, that's a good thing and people might be underestimating that."

The central bank's latest policy statement is expected to be released with fresh economic projections at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).

Interest rate-sensitive bank stocks (.SPXBK) shed about 1.9%, tracking a dip in the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield . /US

Citigroup Inc (C.N) fell nearly 4% as its finance chief, Mark Mason, cautioned that the economic recovery may not translate into better profits for the bank because of a slowdown in institutional businesses and higher expenses.

On the other hand, healthcare (.SPXHC), energy (.SPNY) and utilities (.SPLRCU) were in a bright spot.

At 11:28 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (.DJI) was down 13.02 points, or 0.04%, at 34,286.31 and the S&P 500 (.SPX) was up 1.15 points, or 0.03%, at 4,247.74. The Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) was up 29.55 points, or 0.21%, at 14,102.40.

Oracle Corp (ORCL.N) dropped 5.3% trading as the business software maker forecast current-quarter profit below Wall Street estimates.

New York-listed shares of Chinese private tutoring companies New Oriental Education & Technology Group , TAL Education Group (TAL.N) and Gaotu Techedu Inc (GOTU.N) fell between 8.4% and 13% after a Reuters report that China was poised to unveil a much tougher-than-anticipated crackdown on the industry.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.02-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.19-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 21 new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 59 new highs and 14 new lows.

Reporting by Shashank Nayar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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