The Federal Reserve is widely anticipated to hold rates steady in the week ahead, but key for investors will be the central bank’s guidance on where it’s headed from here. Stocks are wrapping up a choppy week. On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 250 points, and reversed most of its gains from the prior session — in which the index notched its best day since early August. For the week, the Dow closed slightly higher, while the S & P 500 and Nasdaq declined. Investors are assessing a mixed batch of economic reports ahead of the Fed’s September policy meeting. Earlier this week, traders cheered some inflation data that seemed to come in at acceptable levels — though concerns remain roiling under the surface as sticky inflation lingers. August’s producer price index reading showed core PPI was held in check last month, though the headline number rose more than expected. Core prices in August’s consumer price index came in slightly hotter than expected on a monthly basis. Meanwhile, August retail sales came in better than expected, rising 0.6% against a 0.1% increase expected by economists. However, other signals have traders concerned there could be headwinds ahead. Oil prices topped $90 a barrel this week for the first time since November 2022 amid growing expectations of tighter supply, and energy stocks outperformed. The dollar is on pace for a ninth straight week of gains. Yields climbed higher, with the 2-year Treasury trading about 5.035%. “It shows that it remains a difficult market and one where there’s just not an all-clear yet for the economy to be helping everyone,” said U.S. Bank’s Rob Haworth. “It’s still very much a bifurcated economy, and one that remains challenged as rate hikes and higher borrowing costs continue to work their way through the system.” Inspect the guidance First up, investors will be looking for any policy clues in policymakers’ post-meeting statement beyond the decision to keep the federal funds rate in a targeted range between 5.25%-5.5%. Also, the Federal Open Market Committee will release its dot plot, which indicates individual members’ unofficial assessments of where they see rates trending over the next several years. This will be the first look that the markets will get about the committee’s projection for 2026. In addition, the FOMC will update its economic outlook for gross domestic product, unemployment and inflation. Finally, Chair Jerome Powell will hold his usual post-meeting news conference, which will be used to help explain the FOMC’s decision, as well as to provide guidance about where the central bank could be headed from here. Markets are pricing the probability that the Fed is done raising rates, and that Powell likely will be called on to amplify where policymakers’ collective thinking is on future hikes. “I think it’s going to be a big driver for markets,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley Financial. “Because right now, it’s a question mark, and right now, the November meeting is a coin toss.” “But I think we’ll learn a whole lot more both in the press release and in the press conference after this meeting. While they likely won’t change anything, I think it’s going to be very instructive in terms of the future of monetary policy,” Hogan added. Arm cracks open the IPO market After Arm wrapped a successful public debut Thursday, investors are hopeful there could be more tech offerings ahead. Grocery-delivery startup Instacart and marketing-automation company Klaviyo could list as soon as next week . Instacart raised its IPO price range Friday after Arm’s debut . “That might be news that we look forward to next week: What other companies in the wake of a successful Arm IPO start announcing that they’d like to come out as well,” Hogan said. Housing data released in the week ahead could show whether housing demand remains solid. On Friday, the Purchasing Managers Index data will show how healthy the economy is. On the earnings front, FedEx is set to report Wednesday, giving investors insight into the health of the supply chain. General Mills also reports on that day. Week ahead calendar All times ET. Monday, Sept. 18 10 a.m. NAHB Housing Market Index (September) Tuesday, Sept. 19 8:30 a.m. Building Permits preliminary (August) 8:30 a.m. Housing Starts (August) Earnings: AutoZone Wednesday, Sept. 20 2 p.m. FOMC Meeting 2 p.m. Fed Funds Target Upper Bound Earnings: General Mills , FedEx Thursday, Sept. 21 8:30 a.m. Current Account (Q2) 8:30 a.m. Continuing Jobless Claims (9/9) 8:30 a.m. Initial Claims (9/16) 8:30 a.m. Philadelphia Fed Index (September) 10 a.m. Existing Home Sales (August) 10 a.m. Leading Indicators (August) Earnings: Darden Restaurants , FactSet Research Systems Friday, Sept. 22 8:50 a.m. Fed Governor Lisa Cook gives speech for Keynote Address at the National Bureau of Economic Research Economics of Artificial Intelligence Conference, Fall 2023, Toronto, Canada 9:45 a.m. PMI Composite SA preliminary (September) 9:45 a.m. Markit PMI Manufacturing SA preliminary (September) 9:45 a.m. Markit PMI Services SA preliminary (September) — CNBC’s Jeff Cox and Michael Bloom contributed to this report.