Stocks shook off an early loss and are moving slightly higher in morning trading Wednesday as investors wait for minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting. They’ll be looking for any hints on whether the Fed will raise interest rates next month. Retailers dropped after Target reported weak sales.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose one point, or less than 0.1 percent, to 17,531 at 11:11 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose two points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,049. The Nasdaq composite gained 24 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,740.
HIGHER RATES? Traders will be studying the minutes from the Fed’s meeting later Wednesday for clues as to how worried policymakers are about a pickup in inflation. Some investors are concerned the central bank will raise rates even though the economy is barely growing, up just 0.5 percent in the first quarter.
THE QUOTE: “There is little room for error,” said Tom Cassidy, chief investment officer at Univest Wealth Management Division. “When you’re growing slowly, any hiccup could result in a recession.”
TARGET TUMBLE: Target fell $7.66, or 10 percent, to $65.94 after reporting that earnings beat expectations but that sales had slowed. The company also gave a forecast that disappointed investors.
RETAILER ROUT: Shares of many other retailers followed Target lower in what is shaping up to be a miserable year for the sector. Wal-Mart dropped nearly 3 percent and Costco Wholesale lost 2.5 percent.
LIFT AT LOWE’S: The home improvement chain Lowe’s bucked the tide by rising $2.40, or 3 percent, to $78.47 on surging first-quarter profits and higher comparable-store sales. The company also raised its outlook for the year as it benefits from a strengthening U.S. housing market.
BANK BOOST: JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup each rose about 3 percent on the prospect of bigger profits on loans. Higher interest rates tend to widen the gap between what banks pay depositors for their money and what they charge when they lend that money out.
EUROPE’S DAY: Germany’s DAX rose 0.2 percent and France’s CAC 40 climbed 0.3 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.2 percent.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was flat. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.5 percent. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.6 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.7 percent.
ENERGY: U.S. crude oil slipped five cents to $48.26 a barrel in New York, adding to a string of gains. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 11 cents to $49.17 a barrel in London.
BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.82 percent from 1.71 percent late Tuesday. The dollar rose to 109.76 yen from 109.07 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1277 from $1.1317.