Stock trading is muted as investors wait for Fed statement

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Stock trading is muted as investors wait for Fed statement
FILE - In this June 11, 2019, file photo trader Timothy Nick, left, and specialist Dilip Patel work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. stock market opens at 9:30 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, June 19. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks moved sideways in early trading Wednesday on Wall Street ahead of a highly anticipated Federal Reserve statement on interest rates.

The muted trading follows two days of gains that are driving a June rebound in stocks after a dismal sell-off in May. The broad S&P 500 index is within striking range of its all-time high, set on April 30.

Financial companies, including banks, led the early gainers as bond yields rose. The higher yields allow banks to charge higher interest rates on loans. Wells Fargo rose 1.2% and U.S. Bancorp rose 1%.

Drug developer Allergan rose 3.5% and helped push gains for health care stocks. Cardinal Health rose 1.4%.

Software maker Adobe rose 3.3% on solid profit results and did most of the heavy lifting for technology companies, though the sector was wobbling overall between small gains and losses. Hewlett Packard rose 1.1%.

Communications stocks and companies that rely on consumer spending led the laggards. Facebook fell 1.5% as it faces Congressional criticism over its cryptocurrency plans. Nike fell 1% and Sysco fell 1.8%.

Stocks opened the week higher and rallied on Tuesday after President Donald Trump said he plans to meet with China’s president at the end of the month to discuss their ongoing trade war. The announcement injected some hope into a market that has been volatile because of concerns over the lingering trade dispute and its potential impact on economic growth.

The market has rallied in the past and then dipped again because of seemingly good news on trade talks that did not result in any concrete progress.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.1% as of 10:05 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 57 points, or 0.2%, to 26,518. The Nasdaq composite was unchanged.

FED FOCUS: Investors are waiting for a highly anticipated statement from the Federal Reserve this afternoon that could help give more direction on the future of interest rates.

The central bank isn’t expected to cut rates today, but it has already signaled that it is prepared to take that action in order to help stabilize the U.S. economy if trade disputes cut into growth. Investors are betting on at least one interest rate cut this year, possibly as early as July.

The Fed’s statement comes a day after the head of the European Central Bank said it was ready to cut interest rates and provide additional economic stimulus if necessary.

COMFY RESULTS: La-Z-Boy rose 3.7% after investors brushed off weak sales and cheered a solid fourth quarter profit report.

The company, known for its reclining chairs, met Wall Street’s profit expectations, despite its revenue falling just shy of forecasts. It warned that tariffs hurt its Canadian business during the quarter, but those tariffs were lifted in May.

DURABLE STEEL: United States Steel rose 5.8% after the company said it is idling three blast furnaces as it takes action to offset the impact of lower prices and weaker demand. The move was cheered by investors even as the company offered a weak profit forecast for the second quarter.