U.S. stocks ended mixed on Wednesday with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq notching a five-day winning streak,as minutes of the Federal Reserve's June policy meeting showed that further improvement in the labor market would be needed before Fed's tapering of its bond buying.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 8.68 points, or 0.06 percent, to 15,291.66 points. The S&P 500 edged up 0.30 point, or 0.02 percent, to 1,652.62 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 16.50 points, or 0.47 percent, to 3,520.76 points.
The market opened little changed, but fluctuated afterwards as investors were still not sure about when the Fed would begin to scale back its asset purchases.
The Fed minutes released in the afternoon said the U.S. economy continued to improve moderately in the second quarter but many participants indicated that further improvement in the outlook for the labor market would be required before it would be appropriate to slow the pace of asset purchases.
In a speech shortly after Wednesday's closing bell, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said safeguarding financial stability is important for macroeconomic stability and that more needs to be done to strengthen frameworks.
On the economic front, wholesale inventories decreased 0.5 percent in May from the prior month, the U.S. Commerce Department said Wednesday, missing market estimates. However, wholesale sales rose 1.6 percent in May.
Moreover, U.S. mortgage applications fell 4.0 percent from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association's Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending July 5.
China's disappointing trade data in June added negative sentiment to the market. Exports in the world's second largest economy slipped 3.1 percent in June, while imports fell 0.7 percent.
On the previous trading day, U.S. stocks rallied on better-than- expected second-quarter earnings from aluminum producer giant Alcoa, which lifted the Dow and the S&P 500 very close to their record highs in May and the Nasdaq to its highest level since October 2000.
According to Thomson Reuters data, earnings of S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 2.9 percent in the second quarter of this year from the year-ago period, while quarterly revenue is forecast to increase 1.5 percent from a year ago.
On other markets, the U.S. dollar dropped against other major currencies Wednesday. In late New York trading, the euro gained to 1.2881 dollars from 1. 2787 dollars of the previous session and the British pound increased to 1.4923 dollars from 1.4869 dollars. The Australian dollar lost to 0.9115 dollars from 0.9191 dollars. The dollar bought 100.18 Japanese yen, lower than 100.95 yen of the previous session.
Meanwhile, oil prices went up as U.S. oil supplies fell more than expected last week. U.S. oil price advanced almost 3 percent to a 15-month high after U.S. supplies tumbled for a second week as refinery operating rates gained.
U.S. Energy Information Administration said crude supplies fell significantly last week. U.S. crude inventories shrank 9.87 million barrels to 373.9 million barrels in the week to July 5. Analysts expected a drop of 3.8 million barrels.
Light, sweet crude for August delivery gained 2.99 dollars, to settle at 106.52 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent for August delivery went up 0.7 dollars, to close at 108.51 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures ended higher for a third session in a row, supported by potential higher demand for jewelry, bars and coins, especially in China. The most active gold contract for August delivery rose 1.5 dollars, or 0.12 percent, to settle at 1,247.4 dollars per ounce.