US stocks turn mixed ahead of Fed announcement

NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks turned mixed in morning trading Wednesday on Wall Street ahead of a highly anticipated announcement from the Federal Reserve on interest rates.

Wall Street’s main focus is the central bank’s decision on interest rates this afternoon. Investors have been betting that it will cut rates for the first time in a decade to help shore up the U.S. economy as it faces threats to growth from the prolonged trade war with China.

Stocks have been mostly pulling back after setting records last week. Investors have been absorbing a heavy flow of corporate earnings amid concerns about trade and economic growth.

Technology stocks were the clear leaders in the early going, with an increase in Apple shares accounting for most of the gains. The sector was responsible for lifting the market in the early going, but eased up as the morning progressed.

Amgen rose 4.5% and helped lead health care stocks higher after reporting solid profit results and a good forecast.

Consumer product makers and consumer-related companies were among the biggest losers, weighed down partly by a slide in Molson Coors Brewing. General Electric pushed industrial stocks lower.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index rose 0.1% as of 11:30 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 18 points, or 0.1%, to 27,216. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.3%.

INTEREST: Most analysts expect the Fed to announce a quarter-point cut to its benchmark short-term interest rate. That could help give the economy, and stock prices, a boost. It would help lower rates on consumer and business loans, which would encourage borrowing and possibly energize the economy.

The central bank has been considering the move to help counter a number of growing economic threats, including the trade war with China, subpar inflation and a weak global economic outlook. Analysts have been dubbing the move as an “insurance” cut because it would be made despite seemingly solid economic growth in order to inoculate the economy against a potential downturn.

OVERSEAS: Stocks in Europe were mostly higher. France’s CAC 40 was up 0.2% while Germany’s DAX edged up 0.4%. London’s FTSE 100 fell 0.8%.

Shares in Asia were broadly lower. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 fell 0.9% and South Korea’s Kospi dropped 0.7%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.3% and the Shanghai Composite shed 0.7%.

CRISP RESULTS: Apple rose 4.4% after beating Wall Street’s profit and revenue forecasts for the quarter while slamming the brakes on the decline of iPhone sales in China.

Sales of the company’s best-known product are still sputtering, but the company has seen increasing revenue contributions from digital services, such as music. The decline of iPhone sales in China slowed drastically during Apple’s third quarter to a 4% drop. Sales of the iPhone plunged 25% during the first half of the company’s fiscal year.

PANCAKED: IHOP and Applebee’s owner Dine Brands Global fell 5.4% after slashing its financial forecast for the year. The company cut forecasts for sales at existing Applebee’s and IHOP locations, along with overall profit, following a disappointing second quarter earnings report.

CLOGGED TAP: Molson Coors Brewing fell 7.9% after the company reported a global decline in volume and sales during the second quarter that weighed down profit. The maker of Molson and Coors fell short of analysts’ profit and revenue forecasts. It faced weaker demand in May and June.

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