By DAMIAN J. TROISE
AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks were mixed and bond yields rose Wednesday ahead of a widely expected interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve. Oil prices rose as Europe moved toward banning Russian oil.
Crude oil prices rose 3.7% after Europe took a step closer to placing an embargo on Russian oil as that country continues its war against Ukraine. Any embargo could strain oil supplies and push prices still higher. Exxon Mobil rose 1.7%.
Technology stocks fell. Cloud services provider Akamai Technologies plunged 11.1% after reporting weak first-quarter earnings and revenue. Many companies in the sector have pricey stock values and therefore have more force in pushing the major indexes up or down.
Trading is mostly muted ahead of the Fed’s statement. The central bank is widely expected to raise its benchmark short-term rate by double the usual amount, half a percentage point, as it steps up its fight against inflation. It has already raised its key overnight rate once, the first such increase since 2018.
“The economy is still really healthy, the consumer is quite healthy and earnings are positive overall,” said Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist for LPL Financial. “The Fed will hike rates knowing that the economy can withstand it and avoid a recession.”
The S&P 500 rose 0.1% as of 12:23 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 75 points, or 0.2, to 33,205 and the Nasdaq fell 0.5%.
Bond yields rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.97% from 2.96% late Tuesday. It has been hovering near its highest levels since late 2018.
Tupperware slumped 33.8% after the direct seller of plastic storage containers and cosmetics withdrew its financial forecast for the year following a highly disappointing first quarter. The company cited pressure from inflation, lockdowns in China and the conflict in Ukraine.
Chipmaker Skyworks Solutions fell 10.7% after giving investors a weak financial forecast as strict COVID-19 lockdown measures in China hurt production.
Lyft plunged 34% after the ride-hailing company gave investors a disappointing revenue forecast for its current quarter.
Several companies were rewarded for their results. Airbnb rose 1% after the short-stay home rentals company sharply narrowed its first-quarter loss and gave investors an encouraging revenue forecast. Starbucks jumped 5.9% after reporting surprisingly strong sales at stores that have been open at least a year, which is a key measure of health for retailers.
The Fed’s aggressive shift to raise interest rates comes as rising inflation puts more pressure on businesses and consumers. Higher costs for energy and other commodities have prompted many businesses to raise prices and issue cautious forecasts to their investors. Wall Street and economists are worried that higher prices on everything from food to gas and clothing will prompt a slowdown in consumer spending and crimp economic growth.
The worries have worsened with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its impact on energy and key food commodity prices. China’s increasingly stricter lockdown measures because of rising COVID-19 cases have also added concerns about slower economic growth because of supply problems and shipping backlogs.
Wall Street is closely watching economic data for any signs that inflation might be easing. Consumer prices surged in March, but a measure of inflation that excludes food and energy had its smallest monthly rise since September. That was a welcome sign for investors and more of the same in the coming months cold temper inflation concerns.
“If we can get just a few more readings showing inflation slowing, that could be the match that sparks some confidence,” Detrick said.
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