Stocks are barely higher

Stocks opened higher and are nearly flat in early going on Wednesday, day one of the FOMC’s two-day policy meeting.

Near 9:52 a.m. ET, the Dow was up 11 points, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were pretty much flat.

Trading volumes on the New York Stock Exchange over the past two days have dropped comparatively (Monday was the lowest level in a month), and strategists have noted that traders are standing by for the Fed’s interest rate decision tomorrow.

Expectations for a rate hike based on fed fund futures nudged up to 32% today from 28% early in the week.

Yesterday’s spike in short-term treasury yields suggested that we’re closer than ever to a rate hike cycle, according to TD Securities’ Priya Misra. Treasuries are firmer today, and yields fell as they do when prices rise. The 2-year yield, at about 0.79%, was still near a four-year high.

This morning, the consumer price index confirmed that inflation is still sluggish. CPI fell 0.1% in August, the first drop in seven months, and so-called “core” inflation that excludes volatile food and energy costs rose 0.1%.

We’ll get the NAHB homebuilder index at 10:00 a.m. ET, and economists expect sentiment to remain at a nine-year high.

FedEx reported earnings this morning; the company missed on earnings expectations and cut its outlook for the 2016 fiscal year. On Thursday, it announced that shipping rates are increasing by 4.9% across the board. The stock fell about 2% in early trading.

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