An elevator mechanic wears the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System seal on his shirt while operating an elevator at the Fed in Washington. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

(Bloomberg) --

U.S. stocks fluctuated for most of the session before ending the day higher after the Federal Reserve’s minutes reinforced the outlook for interest rates. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.

Fed Eyes Ending Runoff 

Federal Reserve officials widely favored ending the runoff of the central bank’s balance sheet this year while expressing uncertainty over whether they would raise interest rates again in 2019, minutes of their January meeting showed. “Almost all participants thought that it would be desirable to announce before too long a plan to stop reducing the Federal Reserve’s asset holdings later this year,” according to the record of the Federal Open Market Committee’s Jan. 29-30 gathering released Wednesday. “Such an announcement would provide more certainty about the process for completing the normalization of the size of the Fed’s balance sheet,” the minutes said, referring to the rolloff of assets from the $4 trillion balance sheet that began in late 2017.

Stocks Edge Higher 

Asian shares look set for gains after U.S. stocks edged higher, while Treasuries fell after Federal Reserve meeting minutes did little to alter views on the central bank’s policy path. The S&P 500 eked out its seventh gain in eight sessions as the record of the gathering reinforced the Fed remains committed to its patient approach to further hikes without ruling them out if economic growth picks up. Caterpillar rallied after giving a bullish forecast for demand in China, lifting shares in materials producers. The 10-year Treasury yield climbed to 2.64 percent, while the dollar erased losses. Elsewhere, the pound was little changed as Prime Minister Theresa May headed back to Brussels in a last-ditch attempt to save her Brexit deal. Gold traded near the highest since May and palladium soared to a record as a shortages tarted to bite.

Samsung’s Foldable Phone

Samsung Electronics Co. debuted its most extensive new lineup of smartphones, taking on Apple Inc. amid a slowing market with new low-end and premium models, 3-D cameras, an in-screen fingerprint scanner and faster 5G connectivity. At simultaneous launch events in San Francisco and London on Wednesday, the South Korean technology giant introduced four new phones -- the Galaxy S10, S10+, S10e, and S10 5G. The S10 and S10+ are direct successors to last year’s S9 and S9+, while the S10e and S10 5G are two new models for the company: a low-end phone aimed at Apple’s iPhone XR, and a high-end version priced above $1,000. The company also unveiled a $1,980 smartphone with a foldable screen, a dramatic shift in the mass market for phones.

Goldman Plaintiffs Vie for Lead in 1MDB Suit 

Five law firms are vying to take control of litigation against Goldman Sachs Group Inc. over the 1MDB scandal, asking a judge to appoint their clients as lead plaintiff in a group lawsuit accusing the bank of misleading investors about its work with the Malaysian state fund. The lawyers who are selected as main counsel in the class action will map strategy, file legal motions, manage settlement talks and divvy up the work among collaborating firms. They stand to collect the most in fees in the event of a settlement or favorable verdict. The lawyers say their clients suffered large financial losses and are best positioned to fairly represent the group of investors covered by the case. It will fall to U.S. District Judge Vernon S. Broderick in Manhattan to select the firm or firms that control the lawsuit.

Aussie Housing Nightmares Spur Backlash

A generation of young Australians priced out of the property market and frustrated at a widening wealth divide could prove pivotal in triggering a change of government in May. The main opposition Labor party has made tackling the growing gap between so-called baby boomers and millennials a key plank of its campaign to win office for the first time since 2013. The center-left party, which is leading Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government in opinion polls, is pledging to curb tax breaks for property investors that helped drive home prices beyond the reach of many Australians. Labor leader Bill Shorten is also promising to scrap tax refunds worth A$5 billion ($3.6 billion) a year for share investors -- a policy that’s angered wealthier retirees but is more popular with under-35’s.

What we’ve been reading:

This is what caught our eye over the last 24 hours.

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