U.S. stocks were flat on Wednesday, as investors await a statement from the Federal Reserve at 2 p.m Eastern, following the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) two-day policy meeting on March 18-19.
The Federal Reserve announced in December 2013 it would begin to scale back its asset purchasing program by $10 billion in January. The Fed also cut an additional $10 billion in stimulus in February, leaving the central bank's bond-buying program currently at $65 billion a month.
After the FOMC releases its latest statement on Wednesday afternoon, Janet Yellen is scheduled to begin her first press conference as Fed Chair at 2:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be interesting, the Q&A session. The room is compiled of different reporters with different agendas,” said Jonathan Corpina, senior managing partner with Meridian Equity Partners Inc. to the International Business Times. “I think what we’re looking forward to and what we’re expecting to hear are two things. One is additional tapering. Are they going to turn the needle back a little bit? Is it $10 billion? Is it $20 [billion]?” Corpina said.
The Fed is expected to reduce its stimulus program by another $10 billion to $55 billion.
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“I think the second thing is going to be about interest rates, clearly, and what is that target unemployment number,” Corpina added. “What does that rate have to get to for interest rate hikes to really start to kick in. Those two key things are important for us to hear. I think Ms. Yellen has had some time in office to get her feet wet, so to speak. We gave her a pass on the first one. I think at this point now this press conference should yield a little more information and clarity.”
Ahead of the FOMC’s statement, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.35 points, or 0.01 percent, at 16,337.54. The S&P 500 was up 0.53 points, or 0.03 percent, at 1,872.87. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 1.46 points, or 0.03 percent, at 4,331.86.