U.S. stocks finished mixed Wednesday after a wavering session, as the Federal Reserve's minutes of its latest policy meeting revealed that some top Fed officials liked to see rate hiking sooner than later.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 59.54 points, or 0.35 percent, to 16,979.13. The S&P 500 advanced 4.91 points, or 0.25 percent, to 1,986.51. The Nasdaq Composite Index edged down 1.03 points, or 0.02 percent, to 4,526.48.
The market fluctuated shortly after the release of the minutes which said that some participants viewed the actual and expected progress toward the Fed's goals as sufficient to call for a relatively prompt move toward reducing policy accommodation to avoid overshooting its unemployment and inflation objectives over the medium term.
After a temporary decline, however, the market rallied again, sending the benchmark S&P 500 closer to its record high set on July 24.
The minutes also unveiled that participants noted evidence of valuation pressures in some particular asset markets.
One day earlier, Yale University Professor and Nobel laureate Robert Shiller voiced his warning of equity overvaluation in an interview with CNBC. However, also in an interview with CNBC, Jeremy Siegel, professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, argued that the bull market is still intact, with the Dow possibly hitting 19,000 points by the end of this year.
Investors are also looking to Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen who will deliver a speech Friday at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City's annual economic symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
In corporate earnings, Target cut its full-year earnings guidance as the retailer reported a sharp decline in its profit for the second quarter. Target said Wednesday morning that its net earnings in the second quarter were 234 million U.S. dollars, down 61.7 percent from 611 million dollars a year ago, as the company continued suffering from a data breach last December. Its adjusted earnings per share of 78 cents in the second quarter missed analysts' expectations by a penny.
Meanwhile, home improvement retail giant Lowe's also slashed its sales forecast for the year, saying its total sales are expected to increase approximately 4.5 percent for fiscal year 2014. Lowe's second-quarter results showed that net earnings rose 10.4 percent to 1.04 billion dollars, or 1.04 dollars per diluted share, beating market expectations.
Shortly after the closing bell, Hewlett-Packard Company posted its quarterly earnings in line with expectations and revenue that beat analyst forecast. However, the personal computer's shares slipped in after-hours trading.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as Wall Street's fear gauge, fell 3.52 percent to end at 11.78 on Wednesday.
In other markets, crude prices rebounded Wednesday after government data showed U.S. crude stockpiles fell more than expected. Light, sweet crude for September delivery moved up 1.59 dollars to settle at 96.07 U.S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for October delivery gained 72 cents to close at 102.28 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange continued to lose steam Wednesday on a firmer dollar. The most active gold contract for December delivery dropped 1.5 dollars, or 0.12 percent, to settle at 1,295.2 dollars per ounce.
The U.S. dollar surged against major currencies Wednesday after the minutes showed that top Fed policy makers discussed withdrawing monetary easing measures.
In late New York trading, the euro fell to 1.3262 dollars from 1.3319 dollars of the previous session, and the dollar bought 103. 71 Japanese yen, higher than 102.91 yen of the previous session.