Asian shares mixed as investors await central bank moves

Stocks were mixed in morning trading on Wall Street Tuesday ahead of more news this week on the Federal Reserve and the jobs market.

Investors are also reviewing a heavy load of corporate earnings for more clues as to how companies are faring as the economy moves past the virus pandemic.

The S&P 500 index rose 0.3% as of 11:29 a.m. Eastern. The benchmark index is roughly split between gainers and losers and is hovering around the all-time high it set a day earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 86 points, or 0.2%, to 36,001 and the Nasdaq rose 0.2%.

Small-company stocks edged lower after surging a day earlier. The Russell 2000 fell 0.1%.

Technology stocks made solid gains. Cloud networking company Arista Networks surged 20.9% after giving investors an encouraging financial forecast following a strong third-quarter report.

Health care stocks also rose. Prescription drug distributor McKesson gained 5.7% after raising its profit forecast. Pfizer was up 4.6% after delivering a strong profit report.

Losses from a mix of banks and companies that rely on direct consumer spending offset gains elsewhere in the market.

Bond yields slipped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.53% from 1.57% late Monday.

Crude oil prices slipped 1.1% and weighed down energy stocks.

Wall Street has been focusing on a steady flow of corporate earnings over the last few weeks. The results helped drive gains for the major indexes after a choppy summer as COVID-19 cases surged. That wave has since subsided, but rising inflation as the economy recovers remains a key concern.

Investors are waiting for the latest comments from the Federal Reserve as it moves ahead with plans to ease the extraordinary support measures put in place at the beginning of the pandemic to shore up the markets and economy.

Chair Jerome Powell has signaled the Fed will announce after its policy meeting Wednesday that it will start paring its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases as soon as this month. Those purchases are intended to keep long-term loan rates low to encourage borrowing and spending.

“We all know the Fed is going to unwind, what’s not known is the language around employment and how the Fed frames what success looks like,” said Robert Schein, chief investment officer at Blanke Schein Wealth Management.

The employment market recovery has been a key focus for the central bank. The job market has been improving, but it has mostly lagged the rest of the economic recovery as people are hesitant to return to work despite an abundance of job openings. Investors will get another update Friday when the Labor Department releases its jobs report for October.

The central bank’s plan to trim its bond purchases also comes as businesses and consumers contend with higher prices for raw materials and finished goods. Supply chain problems are cutting into corporate finances and prompting companies to raise prices.

Investors will get another update on services, which make up a big part of the economy, when the Institute for Supply Management releases its service sector index for October on Wednesday.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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