The S&P 500 and the Dow closed modestly higher and Treasury yields reversed slight losses after the Federal Reserve, in minutes of its latest meeting, said that the economic recovery remains far from complete despite showing signs of progress.
The Nasdaq ended the session nominally lower, and economically sensitive small caps and transports crossed the finish line well into negative territory.
“Today is noncommittal, not much going on, not much conviction one way or another,” said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth in Fairfield, Connecticut. “We’re in a wait-and-see period, in that transition between not a lot happening, just before earnings begin in a couple of weeks.”
The U.S. Federal Reserve released the minutes from its most recent monetary policy meeting, in which the participants expressed caution about ongoing risks of the pandemic and reiterated the Fed’s commitment to an accommodative stance until the rebound was more secure.
The minutes contained few surprises and appear to have been baked in to the markets.
“The Fed (minutes were) more of the same, it will be a while before we see changes in their policy decisions,” Pavlik added. “You saw a little bit of a bounce in the markets but it’s faded.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 16.02 points, or 0.05%, to 33,446.26, the S&P 500 gained 6.01 points, or 0.15%, to 4,079.95 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 9.54 points, or 0.07%, to 13,688.84.
European stocks inched lower, closing just below record highs, while optimism over speedy inoculations and the soft pound sterling powered the UK’s exporter-laden FTSE 100’s 0.9% advance.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.22% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.07%.
Emerging market stocks lost 0.61%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.57% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.12%.
U.S. Treasury yields regained some ground after dipping following the release of the Fed minutes, which reinforced expectations that interest rates will remain near zero for some time.
Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 4/32 in price to yield 1.6686%, down from 1.656% late on Tuesday.
The 30-year bond last fell 25/32 in price to yield 2.3549%, up from 2.316% late on Tuesday.
The dollar slightly advanced against a basket of world currencies after oscillating for much of the session, rising in the wake of the Fed minutes release.
The dollar index rose 0.08%, with the euro down 0.03% to $1.1872.
The Japanese yen weakened 0.05% versus the greenback at 109.83 per dollar, while the British pound was last trading at $1.3733, down 0.65% on the day.
Crude oil prices rose on an improving global economic outlook, but were held in check by rising gasoline inventories.
U.S. crude settled at $59.77 per barrel, up 0.74%, while Brent gained 0.67% to settle at $63.16 per barrel.
Gold prices dipped as economic optimism drew investors away from the safe-haven metal in favor of riskier assets.
Spot gold dropped 0.4% to $1,737.11 an ounce. U.S. gold futures settled 0.1% lower at $1,741.6.