Wall Street moves higher; Fed policy meeting eyed

By Shreyashi Sanyal
Traders work on the floor at the NYSE in New York

By Shreyashi Sanyal

(Reuters) - Wall Street's main indexes climbed higher on Monday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the pack, as investors awaited a crucial Federal Reserve meeting that is expected to lay the groundwork for an interest rate cut later this year.

The Fed is likely to leave borrowing costs unchanged at its two-day policy meeting starting Tuesday, but its policy statement will give insight into the impact of trade war, President Donald Trump's push for rate cut and weaker economic data on the monetary policy.

Markets expect a cut in interest rates as early as July. The S&P 500 index has risen 5% so far this month on this hope, but that rally petered out in the past week.

"Most people do not think that there will be a rate cut day after, but they do not want to jump in and make any major asset reallocations until they get more guidance from the Fed," said Mayra Valladares, managing principal at MRV Associates in New York.

"Investors want to see what language Fed officials use about recent economic data to see if the data will influence the Fed to cut rates later in the year."

The Fed's rate-setting committee is due to release its statement at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) on Wednesday, with Fed Chair Jerome Powell holding a press conference shortly after.

Banking stocks gained 0.37%, while the broader S&P 500 financial sector edged up 0.13%.

The Nasdaq Composite index rose after declining 0.5% on Friday as shares of marquee companies such Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and Alphabet Inc rose between 0.5% and 3%.

At 11:23 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 72.03 points, or 0.28%, at 26,161.64, the S&P 500 was up 8.59 points, or 0.30%, at 2,895.57 and the Nasdaq was up 60.12 points, or 0.77%, at 7,856.78.

Boeing Co gained 2.13% and lifted the Dow higher, after the planemaker raised its rolling 20-year industry forecast for passenger aircraft to $6.8 trillion.

Keeping the gains in check on the blue-chip index was a 3.27% drop in shares of Dow Inc after brokerage BMO Capital Markets downgraded the chemicals maker's stock to "market perform" on rising macro uncertainty.

Shares of Walt Disney Co dropped 0.59% after a report that Imperial Capital had downgraded the entertainment conglomerate's shares to "in line."

Array Biopharma Inc surged 56.15% after Pfizer Inc agreed to buy the drugmaker for $10.64 billion to beef up its cancer portfolio. Pfizer edged lower.

Investors are also looking forward to the G20 summit at the end of the month for an update on the progress in talks to resolve the prolonged trade war between the United States and China.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a 1.39-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.49-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 32 new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 48 new highs and 62 new lows.

(Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Aparajita Saxena in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Arun Koyyur)