U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday as investors awaited the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s March meeting on monetary policy.
Losses were limited by a 2 percent rise in crude oil, which propped up energy stocks. [O/R]
Investors, who have been grappling with mixed signals on interest rates from Fed officials, will parse the minutes to gain insight into the central bank’s thinking on the economy. The minutes are due at 2 p.m. ET (1600 GMT).
While Fed Chair Janet Yellen has taken a cautious stance, some officials have supported an aggressive plan to raise rates as data points to resilience in the U.S. economy.
“The market is back to its original conundrum, which is ‘where is the growth?,'” said Kevin Caron, market strategist at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in Florham Park, New Jersey.
Caron, who expects the stock market to remain choppy, said there were still some lingering concerns about global growth and weak expectations for corporate earnings.
A recent rally – sparked by rising oil, strength in the economy and a cautious Fed – helped stocks recover from a steep selloff that had sent the S&P 500 down more than 10 percent earlier this year. The S&P 500 closed flat for 2016 on Tuesday.
Several Fed officials are slated to speak on Wednesday, including Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester and St. Louis Fed President James Bullard. Both are voting members of the rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee.
At 9:38 a.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 24.1 points, or 0.14 percent, at 17,579.22, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 0.1 points, or 0 percent, at 2,045.07 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was up 7.82 points, or 0.16 percent, at 4,851.76.
Six of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower. The S&P telecoms sector .SPLRCL was down 1.34 percent, while industrial stocks .SPLRCI were off 0.52 percent.