US stocks trade flat ahead of key policy decision from the Fed

US stocks trade flat ahead of key policy decision from the Fed
Jerome Powell.Pool/ Getty Images
  • US stocks saw little movement Wednesday morning ahead of a key policy decision from the Fed.
  • Investors expect Chairman Jerome Powell to take a hawkish stance to tame rising inflation.
  • Aside from speeding up its tapering program, Powell could indicate the path for interest rate hikes into 2022.

US stocks were virtually flat in Wednesday morning trades as investors await the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's highly anticipated December meeting this afternoon.

Powell is expected to take a hawkish tilt to better combat rising inflation, which hit 40-year records last week. The surge in inflation comes as America's employment situation continues to improve following the pandemic, giving the Fed more flexibility to shift its focus towards taming rising prices.

Potential changes to the Fed's policy could include a quicker taper of its monthly bond purchasing program, as well as more concrete outlook as to how many interest rate hikes investors can expect in 2022 and beyond.

The US Fed isn't the only central bank feeling the heat from rising inflation. The UK saw inflation hit its highest level in a decade, putting pressure on the Bank of England to raise interest rates.

Here's where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Wednesday:


Retail sales data showed a drop-off in November after a strong October. US Retail sales rose 0.3% in November, well below economist estimates for a rise of 0.8%. Rising inflation and an early holiday shopping season due to concerns about supply chain backlogs and shipping delays likely contributed to the weaker than expected data point.

A glitch in the highly referenced crypto price websites CoinMarketCap and Coinbase briefly listed insane price increases for bitcoin, ether and other cryptocurrencies late Tuesday. Bitcoin's price was incorrectly displayed at more than $799 billion on CoinMarketCap, and $887 billion on Coinbase.

A new trading app called Iconik is aiming to give retail investors a louder voice when it comes to shareholder voting proposals. The app pools together retail shares in companies to collectively vote on company issues.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil dropped as much as 0.71% to $70.23 per barrel. Brent crude, oil's international benchmark, fell as much as 0.58% to $73.27 per barrel.

Gold fell as much as 0.11% to $1,770.40 per ounce.