NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock markets opened slightly lower Wednesday as investors maneuvered cautiously ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy update and amid more worrying news out of Iraq.
Federal Reserve officials will publish their June policy statement at 2 p.m. EDT. That will then be followed by a press conference with Fed Chair Janet Yellen at 2:30 p.m.
The last time rates were adjusted was on Dec. 16, 2008, though quantitative easing was tapered by $10 billion during the last four meetings. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg, on average, aren't expecting a change in rates.
The focus Wednesday will continue to be on the topic of tapering, with the market additionally looking for language on tightening, said Birinyi Associates. Firms that provided targets predict there will be an additional $10 billion of tapering announced Wednesday and that this pace of $10 billion cuts per meeting will continue.
After analyzing FOMC releases over the last two years, Birinyi Associates noted that 69% of the time the market traded lower by 11 basis points from the 2 p.m. FOMC announcements to the close, and was down an additional 20 basis points, on average, the following day 62% of the time.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.16% to 16,782.23. The S&P 500 was down 0.01% to 1,941.87. The Nasdaq was down 0.02% to 4,336.30. U.S. markets rose on Tuesday, though continuing tensions in Iraq and cautiousness as the Fed began its two-day policy meeting capped any big gains.
Oil prices were spiking after Reuters reported that Sunni militants have attacked the largest oil refinery in Iraq and took control of the production units, administration building and four watch towers, or 75% of the refinery.