By Stephen Culp
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks were modestly higher, while Treasury yields pressed “pause” on Wednesday in anticipation of the afternoon release of the Federal Reserve’s minutes, which investors will dissect for clues regarding the central bank’s economic outlook.
All three major U.S. stock indexes were in positive territory, with economically sensitive small caps and transports lagging.
“The market is on hold until we get some indication from the Fed,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York. “I think they’ll repeat what they’ve been saying all along. And the recent decline of Treasury yields more or less plays into their hands.”
The U.S. Federal Reserve is expected to release the minutes from its most recent monetary policy meeting later on Wednesday, which will be parsed for any changes in its economic outlook and clues as to when it expects to tighten its accommodative stance.
While recent data, particularly Friday’s jobs report, suggest the U.S. economic recovery is gaining momentum, labor market progress remains well below the Fed’s threshold for reining in its easy monetary policy.
“Bottom line is I don’t think they’re going to rock the boat at this time, but their tune might be a bit more optimistic,” Cardillo added.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 37.75 points, or 0.11%, to 33,467.99, the S&P 500 gained 7.67 points, or 0.19%, to 4,081.61 and the Nasdaq Composite added 26.61 points, or 0.19%, to 13,724.99.
European stocks inched away from record highs, while the UK’s exporter-laden FTSE 100 <.FTSE> rose against the soft pound sterling.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.14% and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.14%.
Emerging market stocks lost 0.49%. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.48% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.12%.
U.S. Treasury yields were mostly lower on Wednesday in generally quiet trading, with the market in a period of consolidation following a heavy stretch over the last few weeks that saw benchmark 10-year notes hit their highest in about 14 months, but longer-dated yields advanced.
Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 2/32 in price to yield 1.6491%, down from 1.656% late on Tuesday.
The 30-year bond last fell 5/32 in price to yield 2.323%, up from 2.316% late on Tuesday.
The dollar hovered near two-week lows against a basket of world currencies as bond yields stabilized and market participants looked forward to the Fed minutes.
The dollar index fell 0.14%, with the euro up 0.25% to $1.1905.
The Japanese yen strengthened 0.03% versus the greenback at 109.73 per dollar, while the British pound was last trading at $1.3778, down 0.33% on the day.
Crude oil prices pulled back as talks to revive a nuclear deal with Iran raised the possibility of easing sanctions against its oil exports, offsetting prospects for increased demand driven by global economic recovery.
U.S. crude fell 0.81% to $58.85 per barrel and Brent was last at $62.44, down 0.48% on the day.
Gold prices dipped as economic optimism drew investors away from the safe-haven metal in favor of riskier assets.
Spot gold dropped 0.3% to $1,738.27 an ounce.
Graphics: How financial markets have performed over the last week – https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/ygdvzlrywvw/Pasted%20image%201617785132137.png
(Reporting by Stephen Culp; additional reporting by Marc Jones; editing by Jonathan Oatis)