March 28, 2023

5 things you need to know before the stock market opens on Wednesday

US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell holds a news conference after the Federal Reserve raised its target interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point in Washington on September 21, 2022.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

Here are the key news investors need to start their trading day:

1. It’s Fed Day

The Federal Reserve is expected to conclude its two-day meeting on Wednesday afternoon with another three-quarter point rate hike. Investors are locked in to hear what the Fed and Chairman Jerome Powell say about their next course of action as the labor market and economy continue to heat up. “We think they will open the door to a downward rate hike starting in December,” said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Bank of America. However, other market watchers expect Powell to avoid getting too excited about a slowdown in rate hikes. Read real-time market updates here.

2. The Amazon slump

An Amazon Prime truck is pictured as it crosses the George Washington Bridge on Interstate Route 95 during Amazon’s two-day “Prime Early Access Sale” shopping event for Amazon members in New York on October 11, 2022.

Mike Segar | Reuters

Almost everything Amazonthe gains of the pandemic are gone. The e-commerce and cloud services giant suffered its fifth consecutive market loss on Tuesday, falling to its lowest since April 2020. Its market capitalization also fell below $1 trillion. The stock is down nearly 42% this year as the tech titan tries to come to grips with the fact that consumers aren’t spending as much money on things as they were in the earlier days of the pandemic. Instead, people are fighting inflation by focusing more on essentials like groceries, while shedding more than two years of Covid restrictions to eat out, party and travel more. Today, the rush of seeing an Amazon package left on your doorstep just isn’t as exciting as a trip to Europe or burgers and beer with your friends.

3. “Dark clouds” for trade

Shipping company Maersk raised its 2022 profit guidance after exceeding quarterly revenue expectations.

Photo: JOHN THYS/AFP via Getty Images

Shipping giant Maersk on Wednesday warned of bleak times ahead for global trade, even as it reported a record profit due to high prices in its marine business. “With the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis in Europe, high inflation and a looming global recession, there are many dark clouds on the horizon,” CEO of the Danish company Søren Skou said in a statement. He said all of this is weighing on consumers’ ability to spend, which will weaken demand for transportation services. The company, on the other hand, believes it has peaked from its marine business and things will slow down in the fourth quarter.

4. Russia says the grain deal is back

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at his press conference at the Rus Sanatorium on October 31, 2022 in Sochi, Russia. The leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan gathered in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi for a tripartite meeting.

Participant | Getty Images

Russia announced on Wednesday that it will re-agree to an agreement with Ukraine that will keep grain exports flowing. The Kremlin suspended its participation in the deal over the weekend, citing attacks on its ships in the Black Sea. The break caused a spike in grain prices. Ukraine, for its part, dismissed the claim as a false pretext. On Wednesday, however, Russia announced that it had received assurances from Ukraine that it would not conduct military operations against Russian forces using the Black Sea corridor. Read live war updates here.

5. Demand for housing loans is still weak

An “Open House” banner is displayed outside a single-family home on September 22, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

Allison Dinner | Getty Images

The small drop in interest rates last week did not stimulate much new demand for mortgages. Indeed, overall demand fell as buyers were largely sidelined as interest rates remained above 7 percent and prices remained high despite the sudden recent cooling. Demand for mortgage refinancing increased, albeit slightly, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, but not enough to move the needle. Homebuilders have already said that housing is in recession, and now they’re warning that tougher times will come in the new year.

– CNBC’s Patti Domm, Annie Palmer, Elliot Smith, Holly Ellyatt and Diana Olick contributed to this report.

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