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What to Watch Today: Stocks Look Steady Ahead of the Post-Fed Meeting Updates

Carlo Allegri | Reuters

BY THE NUMBERS

U.S. stock futures were flat ahead of Wednesday afternoon's conclusion of the Fed'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. (CNBC)

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. (CNBC)

* Cramer: Rising oil prices put Fed’s Jerome Powell in a tough spot (CNBC)
* Pisani: After traders get past tricky Fed meeting, a confusing second half awaits (CNBC)

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. (CNBC)

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. (CNBC)

* Mortgage refinances rebound as rates drop temporarily to lowest level in a month (CNBC)

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. (CNBC)

IN THE NEWS TODAY

The high-stakes 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. (CNBC)

The Israeli military said early Wednesday that it had used warplanes to raid compounds in Gaza after officials claimed that Hamas had sent incendiary balloons into Israel, the first such violence since a cease-fire between the two last month ended 11 days of fighting. (NBC News)

An antibody combination made by 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 British study. Previous studies of the Regeneron cocktail in nonhospitalized Covid patients. (CNBC)

The FDA cleared 14 million more doses of Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) Covid vaccine produced at a Baltimore plant run by Emergent Biosolutions (EBS). Earlier, the FDA rejected 60 million doses at the plant, saying Emergent had not taken proper precautions to prevent cross-contamination with production of AstraZeneca's (AZN) Covid vaccine. (Reuters)

Southwest Airlines (LUV) suffered its second computer glitch in 24 hours Tuesday, with a system outage leading to the cancellation of about 500 flights and delaying many others. Southwest said it's investigating the issue and doesn't have reason to believe it's connected to Monday's problem. (CNBC)

General Motors (GM) reportedly plans to boost global spending on electric and autonomous vehicles by 30% from its most recent forecast to a total of $35 billion through 2025. People briefed on the plans told Reuters that the spending will include two additional U.S. battery plants. (Reuters)

* Alphabet’s self-driving car company Waymo announces $2.5 billion investment round (CNBC)

The Biden administration's suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal land and water was blocked by a federal judge in Louisiana who ordered that plans continue for lease sales that were delayed for the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska waters "and all eligible onshore properties." (AP)

Progressive tech critic Lina Khan was sworn in as chair of the Federal Trade Commission. The Senate earlier Tuesday approved Khan's nomination as a commissioner earlier in the day in a 69-28 vote. At 32, Khan becomes the youngest chair ever sworn into the agency. (CNBC)

The Senate passed a bill to make Juneteenth, or June 19th, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It's expected to easily pass the House where the Democratic majority is much wider. Biden is expected to sign the bill when it comes to his desk. (CNBC)

STOCKS TO WATCH

Oracle (ORCL) earned $1.54 per share for its latest quarter, beating the consensus estimate of $1.31 a share. The business software company's revenue topped estimates as well. The company forecast current-quarter profit below consensus, however, as it increases investment in its cloud computing operations. Its shares fell 4.7% in premarket trading.

Roblox (RBLX) tumbled 7.7% in the premarket after it reported 43 million daily active users for May, up 28% compared to a year earlier but down from 43.3 million in April. Spending by users of the videogame platform was down slightly from a year earlier.

Kindred Biosciences (KIN), a pet therapeutics company, agreed to be acquired by Elanco Animal Health (ELAN) for $9.25 per share, or $440 million. Kindred had closed at $6.34 Tuesday, and shares surged 44.6% in the premarket.

EBay (EBAY) will sell its South Korean unit to retailer Shinsegae's E-Mart unit and website operator Naver for about $3.6 billion, according to local media reports. E-Mart acknowledged the talks.

Apollo Global (APO) sold textbook and educational technology company McGraw Hill to private-equity firm Platinum Equity for $4.5 billion.

H&R Block (HRB) beat forecasts for both profit and revenue in its latest quarter, and the tax preparation firm also raised its quarterly dividend by 4% to 27 cents per share. Additionally, H&R Block is shifting the end of its fiscal year to June 30 from April 30, to better capture tax filing activity. H&R Block shares slid 1.1% in premarket action.

La-Z-Boy (LZB) reported quarterly earnings of 87 cents per share, compared to a consensus estimate of 74 cents a share. The company best known for its reclining chairs also reported better-than-expected revenue. La-Z-Boy said it was being impacted by supply chain issues and significant increases in raw materials prices. Its shares lost 2.3% in the premarket.

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