Stocks little changed as traders assess Fed minutes, data

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S. July 25, 2016.  REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Stocks traded near the flat line Thursday as investors digested new economic data as well as the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s July meeting.

The Dow was down 8 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq were also little changed.

Weekly jobless claims fell 4,000 to 262,000, while the August Philadelphia Fed business index came in line with expectations.

Investors will also watch Fed speeches from SanFrancisco Fed President John Williams and New York Fed President William Dudley.

On Wednesday, minutes released from the Fed’s last meeting showed the central bank’s policymakers were divided, concerned about inflation and split over the U.S. economy’s strength.

Stocks managed to eke out gains following the minutes’ release on Wednesday, having traded lower for most of the session.

“It’s interesting because, when the minutes came out, the reaction was negative, but about 10 minutes later the sentiment changed and stocks and bonds rose,” said Randy Frederick, managing Director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab.

Frederick also said he expects the stock market to continue trading sideways. “I think the market is topping a bit. That’s not to say we’re headed for a big downturn; I just don’t any catalyst.”

U.S. equities have recently notched record highs despite trading in a very narrow range amid low volume and low volatility. In fact, Wednesday’s session market the 28th straight day the S&P did not move at least 1 percent — in either direction — on a closing basis.

Investors also digested quarterly results from Dow component Wal-Mart, which reported better-than-expected earnings and revenue and raised its full-year guidance.

In oil markets, U.S. crude rose about 1 percent to trade at $47.25 a barrel, hitting a six-week high, amid talks of a supply freeze.

U.S. Treasurys rose across the board Thursday, with the two-year note yield holding near 0.72 percent and the benchmark 10-year yield around 1.55 percent. The dollar fell 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies, with the euro around $1.13 and the yen near 100.4.

Fred Imbert

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