S&P 500 is little changed as investors await Powell speech

S&P 500 is little changed as investors await Powell speech

The S&P 500 traded near flat Wednesday as Wall Street awaits an afternoon speech on the economy from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

The broad index hovered near the flatline. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 42 points, or 0.1%. The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.4%.

Traders were hit with two conflicting reports Wednesday morning.

Payroll processing firm ADP said Wednesday that private companies added just 127,000 positions for the month, well below the 190,000 consensus estimate from economists polled by Dow Jones. It signaled the job market could be cooling, raising hopes the Federal Reserve would slow its aggressive rate-hiking campaign.

But the Bureau of Economic Analysis also said Wednesday that third-quarter GDP increased at a 2.9% annual rate, according to its second estimate. That was revised higher from the 2.6% first estimate, showing the economy is stronger than previously expected.

Investors are waiting for Powell’s speech at the Brookings Institution this afternoon that may give further insight into the central bank’s thinking on future interest rate increases. The Fed is slated to meet later this month and is largely expected to deliver a smaller 0.5 percentage point rate hike after four consecutive 0.75 percentage point increases to tame high inflation. Any signal of a pivot on future rate hikes would likely send markets higher.

“This is a Fed-made recession, so eventually when he does pivot, the market should move higher pretty quickly,” said Steve Grasso, CEO of Grasso Global, on CNBC’s “Fast Money” Tuesday.

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