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Investors await signals from the Fed: How the headlines could affect your money

Plus: Enhanced unemployment benefits may be delayed until mid-April.

Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, speaks during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, March 3, 2020.
Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Stock indexes were mixed. The IRS pushes back Tax Day to May 17, and the federal $300/week unemployment benefits may be delayed. Here's how the headlines affect your money.

Traders wait and see

Stocks didn't move much Tuesday. Among major indexes, the Dow Jones Industrial Average posted the biggest change, a 0.4% loss. The S&P 500 shed 0.2%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite eked out a 0.1% gain.

Stocks are still close to record highs, but investors are paying close attention to rising long-term interest rates, which they're concerned may sap some of stocks' return potential.

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Video by Helen Zhao

Markets moved lower Wednesday morning. Traders are watching the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee, which will wrap up its two-day meeting on Wednesday with a statement from Chairman Jerome Powell. Any wholesale changes to monetary policy would roil markets, though experts expect the Fed to keep things relatively placid, with short-term interest rates to remain near zero.

"The markets are going to be tuned in to every word" of Powell's press conference, Rick Rieder, BlackRock's CIO for global fixed income, told CNBC. "If he says nothing, it will move markets. If he says a lot, it will move markets."

IRS pushes tax deadline to May 17

The IRS plans to extend the deadline to file your taxes to May 17 from April 15, CNBC confirmed Wednesday afternoon.

The news comes a day after a bipartisan group of legislators sent a letter to the IRS and Treasury Department, urging them to extend the April 15 tax filing deadline to July 15. The lawmakers argued that the IRS and taxpayers need time to grapple with the changes laid out in the American Rescue Plan.

"The IRS will need to take action to address such changes in the tax law, and taxpayers will need additional time to fully understand how these changes affect their tax liability," the letter states. "Further, taxpayers and tax return preparers are awaiting guidance from the IRS regarding these recent tax changes and are still waiting for some IRS forms to be made available for electronic filing."

The American Institute of CPAs and the AARP had also requested a postponement of the deadline.

Enhanced unemployment benefits may be delayed

The new stimulus package extends the enhanced federal unemployment benefit of $300/week through Labor Day. But states will need time — until mid-April in some cases — to update computer systems to account for the changes, a Labor Department official said in a memo.

As a result, about 2 million workers will see a delay in their benefits, according to estimates from The Century Foundation.

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Video by Stephen Parkhurst

Words you've heard: benchmark rate

A benchmark rate is an interest rate that serves as a guideline to lenders to set rates on loans of a certain length. For example, rates on long-term loans, such as mortgages, rise and fall alongside the yield of 10-year Treasurys.

The recent uptrend in interest rates has led to marked decline in mortgage refinancing.

Although the daily news can have an impact on your wallet, remember to take a long-term outlook when it comes to decisions on spending, saving, and investing.

This story has been updated to clarify the new tax deadline.

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