STOCK MARKET NEWS: The Fed set to raise rates, JPMorgan, Bank of America CEOs testify to Congress

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Futures trade cautiously ahead of Fed decision

U.S. equity futures traded between gains and losses Wednesday morning ahead of the latest decision on interest rates by the Federal Reserve.

The major futures indexes were searching for direction ahead of the opening bell.

Oil prices were steady Wednesday morning following the previous day’s losses.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $84.00 a barrel. 

Brent crude futures traded around $90.00 a barrel.

The central bank is expected to raise interest rates in the afternoon following the latest policy meeting. It is expected to sharply raise its key short-term rate — a third straight three-quarter-point hike is likely to be announced – its previous rate hikes are being felt by households across the economy. 

The Fed’s latest move is expected to raise its benchmark rate to a range of 3% to 3.25%, the highest level in 14 years.

The rate on the 10-year Treasury was at 3.52% on Wednesday.

Also on the economic agenda, the National Association of Realtors is expected to say that sales of previously owned homes fell 2.3% in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.70 million units. 

In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 dipped 1.4%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 1.8% and China’s Shanghai Composite slipped 0.2%.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 index fell 1.1% on Tuesday to 3,855.93, as more than 90% of stocks and every sector in the benchmark index lost ground. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1% to 30,706.23. The Nasdaq composite also fell 1%, to 11,425.05.

Fed likely to deliver more economic ‘pain’ with another significant interest rate hike

The Federal Reserve is set to escalate its battle against inflation this week with another substantial interest rate hike, risking deeper economic “pain” for millions of households and businesses nationwide.

With inflation unexpectedly accelerating in August and the job market still growing at a healthy clip, the U.S. central bank is widely expected to approve another 75-basis-point rate hike at the conclusion of its two-day meeting on Wednesday. Some investors are even betting on a full-percentage point move as the Fed faces mounting pressure to tame demand and slow surging consumer prices.

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Boeing cutting 150 finance jobs

Boeing announced on Tuesday that it plans to about 150 finance jobs in the United States.

The move is being done to simplify its corporate structure and focus more resources into manufacturing and product development.

The company will reduce staffing in its information technology and finance departments, Boeing said in an emailed statement to Reuters.

Boeing said it increased its workforce by about 10,000 employees earlier this year and ramped up hiring in its engineering and manufacturing departments to respond to the market demand.

Gasoline price gains

The average price of a gallon of gasoline gained on Wednesday to to $3.681, according to AAA. Tuesday’s price was $3.674. 

Gas rose for the first time since hitting a high of $5.016 on June 14. 

Diesel’s price slipped to $4.928 per gallon.

Oil prices rise ahead of Fed decision

Oil prices were higher Wednesday morning following the previous day’s losses, ahead of another aggressive interest rate hike from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was at $86.00 a barrel. 

Brent crude futures traded around $92.00 a barrel.

The Fed is widely expected to hike rates by 75 basis points for the third time in a row later on Wednesday in its drive to rein in inflation. 

Other central banks, including the Bank of England, meet this week as well.

Higher rates have bolstered the dollar, which neared a two-decade high on Tuesday, making oil more expensive for holders of other currencies.

Cryptocurrency prices for Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin were trading mixed Wednesday morning

Bitcoin was trading at around $19,000, after trading lower in seven of the last nine sessions.

For the week, Bitcoin was trading more than 6% lower. For the month, the cryptocurrency is down by 6%. Bitcoin is down more than 59% year-to-date.

Ethereum was trading around $1,300, losing more than 16% in the past week.

Dogecoin was trading around 5 cents and is down 2% in the past week.

Increased U.S. natural gas exports to Europe is ‘driving up prices’ at home: Expert

Current natural gas market conditions could signal pain for consumers this winter and sustained issues for years to come, according to energy economists interviewed by FOX Business.

The experts said the energy crisis in Europe, in part caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, will continue to hurt consumers in the U.S. through the winter as global natural gas and oil supplies are strained. They also noted that the green energy push heralded by the Biden administration and several state governments will further lead to decreased and more unreliable energy supplies, pushing future prices higher.

“The biggest problem is that the shortage in Europe is driving up prices, and prices are set globally,” Diana Furchtgott-Roth, the director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Energy, Climate and Environment, told FOX Business in an interview. “Because natural gas prices are higher globally, we are exporting more, and that’s driving up prices here.”

“At the same time, we are putting forward a number of policies that discourage our companies from producing,” she continued. “Reasonable people might think that if there were a natural gas shortage in Europe, the United States would do as much as it can to increase production here.”

Read more here: Underlying energy market conditions could signal pain for consumers this winter and beyond

FTC looking into Amazon’s $1.7B deal for iRobot

The Federal Trade Commission has questions for Amazon concerning the company’s acquisition of iRobot for $1.7 billion.

It is the latest deal by the e-commerce giant coming under scrutiny by regulators amid growing concerns about the company’s market power.

On Tuesday, iRobot said both it and Amazon received a request for additional information in connection with an FTC review of the merger, according to a regulatory filing.

Both Amazon and iRobot said they would cooperate with the FTC’s review, which delays the completion of a deal. 

The iRobot company is known for its popular Roomba vacuum cleaners.

Earlier this month, a group of some 20 pro-privacy and worker organizations, including Public Citizen and Fight for the Future, urged U.S. antitrust enforcers to stop the purchase.

For more on the story, click here: FTC looking into Amazon’s $1.7B deal for iRobot

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