Major Averages Turning In Mixed Performance As Fed Minutes Loom

After moving to the upside early in the session, stocks have turned in a relatively lackluster performance over the course of the trading day on Wednesday. The major averages have pulled back well off their highs of the session.

Currently, the major averages are turning in a mixed performance. While the Dow is down 29.11 points or 0.1 percent at 31,899.51, the Nasdaq is up 66.92 points or 0.6 percent at 11,331.37 and the S&P 500 is up 7.99 points or 0.2 percent at 3,949.47.

The choppy trading on Wall Street comes as traders seem reluctant to make significant moves ahead of the release of the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

The Fed is due to release the minutes of its May 3-4 meeting at 2 pm ET. At the meeting, the central bank decided to raise interest rates by 50 basis points.

Traders are likely to look to the minutes for clues about how aggressively the Fed plans to raise interest rates at upcoming meetings.

CME Group’s FedWatch Tool currently indicates a 89.0 percent chance the Fed will raise rates by another 50 basis points at its next meeting in mid-June.

On the U.S. economic front, a report released by the Commerce Department showed new orders for durable goods increased by less than expected in the month of April.

The Commerce Department said durable goods orders rose by 0.4 percent in April after climbing by a downwardly revised 0.6 percent in March.

Economists had expected durable goods orders to advance by 0.6 percent compared to the 1.1 percent jump that had been reported for the previous month.

Excluding orders for transportation equipment, durable goods orders edged up by 0.3 percent in April after surging by 1.1 percent in March. Ex-transportation orders were also expected to increase by 0.6 percent.

Sector News

Most of the major sectors are showing only modest moves on the day, although considerable strength remains visible among housing stocks.

The Philadelphia Housing Sector Index has pulled back well off its best levels of the day but remains up by 2 percent.

Toll Brothers (TOL) is posting a standout gain after the luxury home builder reported better than expected fiscal second quarter results.

Retail stocks also continue to turn in a strong performance, with the Dow Jones U.S. Retail Index climbing by 1.8 percent after ending the previous session at its lowest closing level in two years.

Urban Outfitters (URBN), Nordstrom (JWN) and Dick’s Sporting Goods (DKS) continue to post strong gains after reporting their quarterly results.

Natural gas, tobacco and computer hardware stocks are also seeing some strength on the day, while gold stocks are moving lower along with the price of the precious metal.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.3 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index jumped by 1.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets all moved to the upside over the course of the session. While the French CAC 40 Index advanced by 0.7 percent, the German DAX Index climbed by 0.6 percent and the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index rose by 0.5 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have shown a lack of direction after failing to sustain an early upward move. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by less than a basis point at 2.758 percent.

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