Here are the most important news, trends and analysis that investors need to start their trading day:
- Stocks look steady ahead of the post-Fed meeting updates
- Bond yields in Fed holding pattern after latest hot inflation data
- Final major piece of economic data for Fed gathering to consider
- High-stakes Biden-Putin summit begins in Geneva
- Study: Regeneron antibody cocktail can save hospitalized Covid patients
U.S. stock futures were flat ahead of Wednesday afternoon's conclusion of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting. No policy changes are expected, but Wall Street wants to know whether the Fed still thinks rising inflation is transitory and whether its latest view will lead to a sooner-than-expected rate hike and a tapering of its massive bond buying program. On Day 1 of the Fed meeting and after another red-hot inflation report, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq broke three-day winning streaks, dipping from record closes on Monday. The Dow fell Tuesday for its second straight day. The 30-stock average was roughly 1.4% away from its record high close in early May.
The 10-year Treasury yield was also awaiting the Fed, with rates at 1.5%. Bonds were little changed Tuesday after the government's May producer price index showed a 6.6% gain on an annual basis, the largest 12-month increase on record. The PPI data came less than a week after a 5% year-over-year rise in consumer prices in May, the fastest pace since August 2008. The Fed has been content to let inflation run hotter than usual to give the economy more room to recover from the depths of the Covid pandemic and get more people jobs. The Fed's policy statement will be delivered 30 minutes before Chairman Jerome Powell's 2:30 p.m. ET post-meeting press conference.
Housing starts and building permits for May, the final piece of major economic data before the Fed's decision, was released Wednesday morning. New construction in May rose 3.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.57 million units. Building permit activity was also below estimates, dropping 3% last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.68 million. Both starts and permits were revised lower for April. In addition to its policy statement, the Fed also issues its quarterly summary of economic projections. According to CNBC's latest Fed survey, economists, fund managers and Wall Street strategists don't see tapering before January or the first rate hike from near-zero levels until November 2022.
In one of the most highly anticipated geopolitical events of the year, the meeting of U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin got underway Wednesday in Geneva. The summit comes as relations between the two nations have deteriorated, with the U.S. accusing Russia of election meddling as well as involvement in human rights abuses and recent cyberattacks. Russia has always denied the multiple accusations leveled against it, saying it's a victim of anti-Russian sentiment in the West. Biden meets with Putin after a flurry of American diplomacy with Europe allies at the G-7 and NATO summits.
An antibody combination made by U.S biotech Regeneron reduces the risk of death when given to hospitalized patients with severe Covid whose own immune systems failed to mount a response, according to a University of Oxford study. Dr. Scott Gottlieb told CNBC on Wednesday, "This was the subset that the [former] president also probably fell into," referring to when Donald Trump received the Regeneron treatment during his bout with Covid last year. Previous studies of the Regeneron cocktail in nonhospitalized Covid patients have shown that the treatment reduces viral load, shortens the time to the resolution of symptoms, and significantly reduces the risk of hospitalization or death.
Disclosure: Dr. Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Covid vaccine maker Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus, health-care tech company Aetion and biotech company Illumina. He also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings' and Royal Caribbean's "Healthy Sail Panel."