Stocks are basically flat ahead of the Fed

Stocks traded slightly lower on Wednesday morning as markets waited for the Federal Reserve’s policy announcement in the afternoon.

Near 9:37 a.m. ET, the Dow was down 15 points, the S&P 500 was down 1 point, and the Nasdaq was down 4 points — all by about 0.1%.

At 2 p.m. ET, the FOMC will release its policy decision, and it’s widely expected to hold its benchmark rate steady in a 0.25% to 0.50% range. You can read our preview of the Fed’s announcement here.

Data on consumer prices out this morning showed that inflation is gaining momentum. The “core” consumer price index (CPI) rose to a post-crisis high of 2.3% year-on-year. Headline inflation fell 0.2%, pulled down by the energy index.

After the data, yields jumped as Treasurys became less attractive and their prices fell. The inflation-sensitive two-year yield rose to a two-month high of 1.001%.

Screen Shot 2016 03 16 at 9.41.23 AMInvesting.comTwo-year yield takes off

In other economic data, industrial production fell more than expected, weighed down by low activity in mining and utilities. And, housing starts rose more than expected, by 5.2% to an annualized pace of 1.178 million.

Crude oil prices were rising after we got more OPEC headlines. According to Bloomberg, Russian energy minister Alexander Novak said 15 oil-producing states plan to meet April 17 in Doha. It is possible that they reach an agreement to freeze production, amid a serious global supply surplus.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures in New York rose as much as 3% to as high as $37.50 per barrel. WTI hit a low of $35.96 on Tuesday.

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