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Stock Market Today: Stocks Slip Ahead of Fed Policy Announcement

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock markets were slipping on Wednesday as positive sentiment gave way to nerves ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy announcement.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DIA) was dropping 0.33% to 16,855.68. The S&P 500 (^GSPC) was sliding 0.15% to 1,967.09. The Nasdaq (QQQ) was advancing 0.31% to 4,456.61, as Twitter (TWTR - Get Report) shares engaged in a post-earnings rally. U.S. stocks on Tuesday were dragged down by concerns over sanctions against Russia for its role in the Ukrainian conflict and hurt by uncertainty over the Fed meeting which concludes today.

"Dips continue to be buying, not selling opportunities," Craig Johnson, technical market strategist at Piper Jaffray, wrote in a note. He expects that the rotation toward large-cap stocks will likely continue for a while longer, while noting that the S&P 500 has on average continued to rise after such periods of large-cap outperformance. "At this juncture, the broader market remains in a well-defined uptrend," he added. "With the economy gradually healing, we suspect the market should continue to grind higher over the near-to-intermediate-term and we reiterate our call for 2,000 on the SPX and our year-end 2014 price objective of 2,100."

Twitter shares were surging 21.5% to $46.87 after the company showed that it was able to accelerate user growth in the second quarter. The social media copmany earned 2 cents a share on a non-GAAP basis on $312 million in revenue. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected Twitter to lose a penny a share on $283.07 million in revenue.

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U.S. second-quarter advanced GDP figures came in a stronger than expected, increasing at an annual rate of 4% vs. the consensus estimate of 3%. The first quarter's GDP result was upwardly revised to a decrease of 2.1%, from the prior estimate of 2.9%, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.

The July FOMC rate decision will be out at 2 p.m. EDT. Societe Generale economists say that aside from another $10 billion reduction in the pace of asset purchases, there aren't likely to be any substantive changes in the FOMC statement. Any shift in the Fed's rhetoric will come no sooner than the September 16 to 17 FOMC meeting, and possibly even later. The "Fed's unlikely to break the summertime bliss," the economists noted.

The July ADP employment change report, also out before the bell and preceding Friday's July government job results, showed private payroll growth of 218,000, which supports the view that job growth is maintaining strength heading into the second half of the year.

Other stocks to watch Wednesday include Amazon (AMZN), AstraZeneca (AZN), Amgen (AMGN) and Honda (HMC). Japanese carmaker Honda announced that it had set an all-time monthly record for auto production in Asia. Bio-pharmaceutical company Amgen is cutting 15% of its U.S. workforce and will close two manufacturing plants in Washington and Colorado. British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced a deal to pay $2.1 billion for Spanish drugmaker Almirall's respiratory drug line. Amazon is investing $2 billion in its India operation to push back against Flipkart.

European stock indices were little changed on Wednesday as a new round of U.S. and European Union sanctions against Russia over its suspected military backing of separatists in Ukraine coincided with a slew of corporate earnings from some of Europe's biggest companies.

In Tokyo the Nikkei 225 closed up 0.18% at 15,646,43. In Hong Kong the Hang Seng gained 0.37% to 24,732.21.

The Deal's Laura Board has the latest European market action from London:

WATCH: More market update videos on TheStreet TV -- More videos from Ruben Ramirez

-- By Andrea Tse in New York

TheStreet Ratings team rates AMAZON.COM INC as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: "We rate AMAZON.COM INC (AMZN) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed ? some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, largely solid financial position with reasonable debt levels by most measures and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income and weak operating cash flow." Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 0.4%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 23.1%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • Although AMZN's debt-to-equity ratio of 0.29 is very low, it is currently higher than that of the industry average.
  • AMAZON.COM INC has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. This company has reported somewhat volatile earnings recently. But, we feel it is poised for EPS growth in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, AMAZON.COM INC turned its bottom line around by earning $0.58 versus -$0.10 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.09 versus $0.58).
  • Net operating cash flow has declined marginally to $862.00 million or 2.04% when compared to the same quarter last year. Despite a decrease in cash flow AMAZON.COM INC is still fairing well by exceeding its industry average cash flow growth rate of -16.40%.
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Internet & Catalog Retail industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 1700.0% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from -$7.00 million to -$126.00 million.
You can view the full analysis from the report here: AMZN Ratings Report

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