May 1, 2019 / 5:21 PM / 3 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St pauses ahead of Fed decision after Apple-led rally

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* Apple up as China sales steady, upbeat on accessories

* CVS jumps after raising FY profit forecast

* Financials drop ahead of Fed’s interest rate decision

* Indexes: Dow up 0.01%, S&P off 0.07%, Nasdaq gains 0.22% (Updates to early afternoon)

By Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar

May 1 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes took a pause from an Apple-led rally on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 holding close to its record high, ahead of the Federal Reserve’s latest policy announcement.

Shares of the iPhone maker jumped 6.6% after the company’s quarterly results beat Wall Street estimates, despite a record drop in iPhone revenue. The company also announced plans for a new $75 billion share buyback and bumped up its cash dividend by 5%.

The technology sector gained about 0.87%, with high-flying stocks Amazon.com Inc, Netflix Inc and Facebook Inc rising between 0.4% and 3.5%.

The S&P 500 opened at a fresh record high but came off its peak as investors moved to the sidelines in the run up to the Fed’s policy statement at 2:00 p.m. ET.

“It’s a little hard for markets to move up or down much in one of the busiest weeks for catalysts, with 150 S&P 500 companies reporting, the Fed meeting this afternoon, so you tend to get a bit of wait-and-see,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities in New York.

The central bank is largely expected to keep borrowing costs unchanged and maintain a ‘patient’ monetary policy stance, despite President Donald Trump’s call to cut rates.

ADP’s National Employment Report showed private employers added 275,000 in April, well above economists’ expectations and the most since last July, indicating a solid domestic labor market.

The private survey comes ahead of the much anticipated government jobs report on Friday, which is expected to show fewer job additions last month compared to March.

“Things in the U.S. are kind of in a goldilocks situation, not too hot not too cold, so it gives the Fed a little more room here to remain steady for the rest of 2019,” said Mike Zarembski, senior manager at Charles Schwab Futures.

The financials sector, which tend to benefit from a rising rate environment, dropped 0.66%, with S&P banks off 0.91%.

At 12:54 p.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.93 points, or 0.01%, at 26,594.84, the S&P 500 was down 2.09 points, or 0.07%, at 2,943.74 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 18.04 points, or 0.22%, at 8,113.42.

Analysts are now more optimistic on first-quarter earnings growth and expect a 0.5% rise compared with a 2% fall estimated at the beginning of April, according to Refinitiv data.

Of the 305 S&P 500 companies that have reported so far, 76% have topped Wall Street estimates.

CVS Health Corp gained 5.3% after the drugstore chain operator and pharmacy benefits manager raised its full-year profit forecast after reporting a quarterly profit beat.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings jumped 6.3%, the most among S&P 500 companies, after the hotel operator reported quarterly revenue above analysts expectations.

Energy stocks tumbled 0.98%, weighing the most on the S&P 500, as oil prices touched a session’s low after an unexpected rise in U.S. crude inventories.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.17-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.46-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded 42 new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 77 new highs and 39 new lows. (Reporting by Shreyashi Sanyal and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)

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