While you were sleeping: Investors await the Fed

Standard & Poor’s upgraded credit outlook on the US failed to lift Wall Street from the doldrums as investors try to gauge the Federal Reserve’s plans for its bond-buying program.

The next two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting, starting on June 18, cannot come soon enough for many investors looking for direction of the central bank’s plans for quantitative easing.

“US economic performance continues to be characterised by steady if unspectacular growth,” St Louis Fed Bank President James Bullard said in Montreal, Canada, today. “Labour market conditions have improved since last summer, suggesting the Committee could slow the pace of purchases, but surprisingly low inflation readings may mean the Committee can maintain its aggressive program over a longer time frame.”

In late afternoon trading in New York, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index edged 0.02 percent lower. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.13 percent.

S&P today raised its credit outlook on the US to stable, from negative. Last year, the ratings agency had cut the US to “AA+” from “AAA.”

“We believe that our current ‘AA-plus’ rating already factors in a lesser ability of US elected officials to react swiftly and effectively to public finance pressures over the longer term in comparison with officials of some more highly rated sovereigns and we expect repeated divisive debates over raising the debt ceiling,” S&P said, according to Reuters.

Shares of Apple slipped 0.24 percent after the company introduced new mobile software, new software for its desktops, a new high-end laptop and a streaming radio service at its annual developers’ conference.

“Apple has been in a funk, and this is an important event to highlight how they are innovating,” Ben Reitzes, an analyst at Barclays in New York, told Bloomberg.

Shares of McDonald’s gained, last up 1.6 percent, after the company reported a better-than-expected rise in May store sales. Sales at stores open at least 13 months increased 2.6 percent last month.

In other corporate news, Google is set to finalise this week a US$1.3 billion deal to purchase online mapping company Waze, according to Reuters.

Europe’s benchmark Stoxx 600 Index inched lower, ending the session with a decline of just under 0.1 percent from the previous close. France’s CAC 40 and the UK’s FTSE 100 both fell 0.2 percent. Germany’s DAX bucked the trended, closing 0.6 percent higher.

Growth in Japan and the US is accelerating and helping to bolster global economic growth, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said.

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