US stocks traded mixed Wednesday, after the S&P 500 closed higher for the first time in the New Year, as investors turned cautious ahead of the release of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve.
In midday trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 53.59 points, or 0.32 percent, to 16,477.35. The S&P 500 inched up 1.22 points, or 0.07 percent, to 1,839.10. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 17.67 points, or 0.43 percent, to 4,170.85.
The market was struggling for direction, as investors were reluctant to take more risks ahead of the release of the Fed's minutes of its December Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
Following the meeting, the Fed announced the first tapering of its massive asset purchases by 10 billion U.S. dollars starting in January.
On the economic front, U.S. private-sector added 238,000 jobs last December, surpassing November as the strongest month for job growth in 2013, according to a report published by private payroll processor ADP. The fresh figure also beat analysts' expectations of an increase of 200,000.
"The increase in December payrolls was a high for the year, pointing to a strong employment report on Friday," said Jay Morelock, an economist at FTN Financial, in a research note Wednesday.
However, the major indices reacted little to the better-than- expected private jobs data, as investors considered it a mixed news, in accordance with the pledge by the U.S. central bank that its tapering pace of monetary stimulus would be data dependent.
After the private jobs report, the market will be turning their focus to the U.S. Labor Department's December non-farm payroll report due out Friday.