Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • Stocks end down Wednesday after the Federal Reserve left benchmark interest rates unchanged. 
  • Advanced Micro Devices (AMD - Get Report)  ended lower after the chipmaker narrowly beat Wall Street's earnings forecasts.
  • CVS Health  (CVS - Get Report) posted stronger-than-expected earnings and increased the mid-point of its full-year forecast. Shares rose 5.4%.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks ended the day in negative territory Wednesday after the Federal Reserve decided not to change U.S. interest rates but offered no signs that it would cut them either.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average initially rose by some 40 points immediately after the Fed announced at 2 p.m. ET that it was leaving the key federal-funds rate unchanged at a 2.25%-2.5% range. But the index quickly reversed gears and fell 73 points shortly after 3:30 p.m. ET and finished down 163 points, or 0.61%, to 26,430.

Similarly, the S&P 500 fell 0.75% while the Nasdaq ended down 0.57%.

Speaking at a press conference, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell described the recent trend of slowing U.S. inflation as "transitory," reducing hopes among some Wall Street traders that officials at the U.S. central bank might be leaning toward interest-rate cuts later this year.

Powell's comments came shortly after the Fed's interest-rate committee said that it decided to leave rates unchanged because it "continues to view sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the committee's symmetric 2% objective as the most likely outcomes. In light of global economic and financial developments and muted inflation pressures, the committee will be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate."

The Fed left rates unchanged less than a day after President Trump tweeted that the central bank -- which operates independently of the White House -- should cut by 1% to goose up the U.S. economy:

China is adding great stimulus to its economy while at the same time keeping interest rates low. Our Federal Reserve has incessantly lifted interest rates, even though inflation is very low, and instituted a very big dose of quantitative tightening. We have the potential to go...

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2019

....up like a rocket if we did some lowering of rates, like one point, and some quantitative easing. Yes, we are doing very well at 3.2% GDP, but with our wonderfully low inflation, we could be setting major records &, at the same time, make our National Debt start to look small!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 30, 2019

Richard Barrington of MoneyRates.com said that "making no change to the level of interest rates may not seem like a particularly dramatic announcement, but if nothing else, the Fed's announcement today reasserted its independence in the face of cries for them to lower interest rates. A key clue to whether and when the Fed will take its finger off the pause button and resume raising rates will come in the June 18-19 meeting, when they update their economic projections for the months and years ahead. Right now, those projections indicate they expect no rate increases this year, but if they raise their projections it increases the likelihood of interest rate rises resuming."

Stocks had risen earlier Wednesday after payrolls processor Automatic Data Processing reported before the bell that U.S. private employers created new jobs in April at the fastest pace in nine months. Nonfarm private-sector employment increased by 275,000 in April, the most since last July. That's up from about 129,000 in March. Economists had only projected an April reading of +176,000.
 
"The ADP employment report surged to 275,000 in April, comfortably topping the 180,000 forecast," said David Madden, a market analyst at CMC Markets UK. "The March report was revised higher to 151,000, from 129,000. When you take into account that the jobless claims rate recently moved off a 50-year low, and that wages are outpacing inflation, it paints a positive picture of the U.S. economy."

Elsewhere, the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index fell to 52.8 in April from 55.3 the prior month -- the weakest level since late 2016. Three of five components declined, including new orders, employment and production.

Among individual stocks as of about 3:30 p.m. ET:

  • Apple's fiscal second-quarter earnings beat Wall Street estimates, and the iPhone maker's guidance for the the fiscal third quarter came in higher than expected. Shares rose 4.9% to $210.52.
  • Shares of semiconductor maker Advanced Micro Devices  (AMD - Get Report)    fell nearly 3% $26.81 after the company narrowly beat Wall Street's earnings forecasts. 
  • CVS Health  (CVS - Get Report)  posted stronger-than-expected first-quarter earnings and increased the midpoint of its full-year profit forecast. Shares rose 5.4% to $57.32.

Apple and CVS are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells the stocks? Learn more now.