Stocks rallied after the Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged, as expected, and gave an updated assessment of the economy. The US dollar fell to a one-week low, and treasury yields slid.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,941.87 +37.39 (0.21%)
- S&P 500: 2,101.53 +5.24 (0.25%)
- Nasdaq: 5,068.88 +13.32 (0.26%)
And now, the top stories on Wednesday:
- The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged. The Fed’s “dot plot” with FOMC members’ expectations for the level of rates over the next few years, showed that most members anticipate a rate hike this year. The Fed’s outlook for inflation was unchanged, with the Fed expecting “core” inflation to be between 1.3%-1.4% at the end of the year. The Fed cut its forecast for GDP growth to 1.8%-2.0% from 2.3%-2.7% in March. The Fed also raised its unemployment expectations to 5.2%-5.3% from 5.0%-5.2%.
- In her press conference, Fed chair Janet Yellen said that markets are overly fixated on the timing of the first rate hike instead of the trajectory that rates take. She said the FOMC cannot promise there will not be volatility in markets, but can promise it will communicate its expectations clearly. She thinks the US would have limited exposure to the fallout of the Greek debt crisis, but there “undoubtedly would be spillovers” into international markets. On the housing market, Yellen said higher prices are “restoring wealth” to households who have real estate as their main asset.
- Crude oil prices slid after the Energy Information Administration published the latest weekly data on US inventories. Commercial crude inventories fell by 2.7 million barrels in the week ended June 12, bringing the total number to 497.9 million. That’s still a record for this time of year in around 80 years. West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell over 1% to as low as $US59.36.
- FedEx posted fourth quarter earnings, missing on the top and bottom lines. Earnings per diluted share came in at $US2.66, lower than estimates for $US2.69. Sales came in at $US12.1 billion, compared to the forecast for $US12.30 billion. Guidance for fiscal 2016 adjusted earnings of between $US10.60 and $US11.10 per diluted share missed the upper range of forecasts. The company said it “assumes continued moderate economic growth.”
- Allergan, the maker of Botox, is buying Kythera Biopharmaceuticals for $US2.1 billion. Allergan will pay $US75 per Kythera share — 80% in cash, 20% in new Allergen shares for Kythera shareholders. By acquiring Kythera, Allergan adds an injection that treats double chin to its portfolio, called Kybella. The deal is subject to shareholder approval and is expected to close in the third quarter.
- Credit Suisse analysts think the worst is over for SeaWorld. Attendance at the animal theme park has plummeted since CNN aired the “Blackfish” documentary in 2013 that showed controversial treatment of Orcas. After studying online comments about the company, the analysts wrote in a note: “After lengthy negative publicity around SeaWorld driven by Blackfish (and slow response from former management), we believe brand sentiment is bottoming. Our survey work suggests that while negative, online consumer sentiment appears to be stabilizing.”
- JPMorgan vice chairman and legendary dealmaker Jimmy Lee has died. He was 62. In a statement, Jamie Dimon said Lee died unexpectedly this morning. Reuters reported, citing a source familiar with the matter, that while running on a treadmill this morning, Lee felt shortness of breath.