➤ Fed likely to take break from cutting rates today.
➤ Markets await clarity on US tariff hike decision.
➤ Pound rises as Tories' expected victory margin narrows.
U.S. stocks ticked up and bonds gained, ahead of the Federal Reserve decision, as investors continued to await clarity on whether the U.S. will proceed with a tariff hike on Chinese products.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 added 0.1% each around 9:32 a.m. ET.
The Fed is poised to take a break from cutting interest rates later on Dec. 11, but those looking for clear guidance on how long its pause will last will likely be disappointed.
The Fed meeting comes as U.S. annual core inflation was flat at 2.3% in November compared with the prior month. Although markets are pricing in one more cut in 2020, a strong labor market has kept consumer confidence high and validates the Fed's view that the U.S. economy is "in a good place" despite the downside risks, wrote Beth Ann Bovino, chief U.S. economist for S&P Global Ratings.
In trade news, the U.S. and China were reportedly preparing to delay the implementation of Dec. 15 tariffs, though White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow said there was still no definitive decision on the looming tariffs, which remained "on the table."
White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro said there is no "indication" of a tariff suspension from President Donald Trump yet. White House economic and trade advisers are expected to discuss the matter with Trump in coming days, with markets expecting Trump to postpone fresh levies.
Separately, Democrats struck a deal with the Trump administration on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, paving way for the pact to be put up for a vote in the House of Representatives. As part of the agreement, the U.S. will reportedly remove a provision that would have allowed it to reduce the tax-free import ceiling currently at $800, Reuters reported.
European and Asian equities were mixed. Germany's DAX gained 0.4% while France's CAC 40 slipped 0.1% and the FTSE 100 declined 0.2%.
Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.1%, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng advanced 0.8% and the Shanghai SE Composite added 0.2%. The Asian Development Bank trimmed its growth outlook for developing Asia, penciling in an expansion rate for China at under 6% next year.
Shares of Saudi Arabian Oil Co. jumped 10% on the trading debut on the Saudi Tadawul, giving the oil giant a valuation of about $1.88 trillion.
In the debt market, 10-year Treasurys and German Bunds rose, wither their yields shedding 1 basis point to 1.829% and 2 basis points to negative 0.309%, respectively.
In currencies, the dollar index was flat ahead of the Federal Reserve's monetary policy decision.
The pound rose 0.1% against the dollar as a YouGov poll suggested a trimmed 28-seat majority for the Conservative Party in the run-up to tomorrow's general elections. The margin of error means a hung Parliament cannot be ruled out, YouGov said.
The Japanese yen and euro were flat versus the dollar.
In commodities, Brent crude slid 0.5% to $64.01 per barrel on the ICE Futures Exchange, while gold rose 0.2%.
More from S&P Global Market Intelligence:
World's best-selling medicine sees Q3 revenue dip as cancer drug sales surge
Precious metals drop in November as investors seek riskier assets; nickel slumps
Trading activity mixed at major online brokers in October
The day ahead:
10 a.m. ET – U.S. Quarterly Services Survey
10 a.m. ET – U.S. Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations
10:30 a.m. ET – U.S. EIA Petroleum Status Report
2 p.m. ET – FOMC Announcement
2 p.m. ET – U.S. Treasury Budget (Econoday consensus: $-196 billion)
2:30 p.m. ET - Fed Chair Press Conference
6:50 p.m. ET – Japan Machine Orders (Econoday consensus: 0.9% monthly)