Stocks little changed on Federal Reserve minutes

Stocks barely reacted to the release of Federal Reserve minutes Wednesday. Major stocks were down just a fraction of a percent more than an hour after the Federal Reserve released a report on its latest policy meeting in June.

Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Trader John Panin works on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday. Stocks were little changed Wednesday after the release of Federal Reserve minutes.

The stock market's answer to Wednesday's Federal Reserve minutes? Yawn.

Major stock indexes were down a fraction of a percent more than an hour after the Fed released a report on its latest policy meeting in June. The declines mirrored those just before the Fed announcement, which offered no surprises.

The Dow Jones industrial average was down 20 points, or a fraction of a percent, at 15,279 in late afternoon trading. The Standard & Poor's 500 dropped two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,650. The Nasdaq was up 15, or 0.4 percent, at 3,519.

"I don't think the minutes offered anything that would change (my) view of the market's direction or the Fed's intentions," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist for Prudential Annuities.

Stocks slumped June 19 after the Fed meeting when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the central bank was considering easing back on its $85 billion bond-buying program. The market has since rebounded after a number of Fed policymakers reassured investors that the Fed would not curb its stimulus too quickly.

Investors will also focus on a speech Bernanke will deliver at the National Bureau of Economic Research after the market closes Wednesday.

Stocks had risen for four days in a row as investors became more confident about the economy after a strong June employment report.

Investors are watching earnings as companies start to report results for the second quarter, which ended 10 days ago. Analysts expect earnings growth to average 2.8 percent for the companies in the S&P 500, according to data from S&P Capital IQ.

In government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.69 percent from 2.64 percent late Tuesday.

The price of crude oil jumped almost 3 percent to the highest level in 14 months after the U.S. government reported another steep decline in the nation's supplies. Oil rose $2.99 to $105.71 a barrel in New York.

The price of gold rose $1.5, or 0.1 percent, to $1,247.40 an ounce.

Among stocks making big moves:

Family Dollar Stores rose $5.28, or 8.3 percent, to $69.23 after the company's earnings beat analysts' forecasts.

— Hewlett-Packard rose 44 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $25.91 after a Citigroup analyst raised his rating on the company. The analyst doubled his price target for the stock, saying the PC maker's turnaround efforts are taking hold.

Fastenal, an industrial and construction supplies distributor, fell $1.51, or 3.2 percent, to $45.60 after the company reported that its second-quarter revenue fell short of analysts' estimates.

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