U.S. stocks end mixed after FOMC minutes

NEW YORK, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks ended mixed on Wednesday after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) released minutes from its Jan. 31 meeting.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 48.44 points, or 0.13 percent, to 38,612.24. The S&P 500 added 6.29 points, or 0.13 percent, to 4,981.8. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 49.91 points, or 0.32 percent, to 15,580.87.

Ten of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ended in green, with energy and utilities leading the gainers by going up 1.86 percent and 1.36 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, technology bucked the trend by dropping 0.76 percent.

According to the minutes released Wednesday from the Federal Reserve's latest meeting, officials signaled that they were not rushing to reduce interest rates. They also conveyed a mix of optimism and caution regarding inflation.

"In discussing the policy outlook, participants judged that the policy rate was likely at its peak for this tightening cycle," the minutes stated. "Participants generally noted that they did not expect it would be appropriate to reduce the target range for the federal funds rate until they had gained greater confidence that inflation was moving sustainably toward 2 percent."

Richmond Fed President Tom Barkin on Wednesday said the new consumer and wholesale price reports made things harder. "You do worry that when the goods price deflation cycle ends you are going to be left with shelter and services higher than you like."

After the release of the minutes, traders of U.S. short-term interest-rate futures stuck to bets the Fed will begin cutting interest rates no earlier than June.

Investors awaited a crucial report from artificial intelligence (AI) leader Nvidia, due after the market closed. Nvidia shares have soared nearly 40 percent this year, making it the best performer on the S&P 500 after a leap of almost 240 percent in 2023.

"It's been driven by excitement and enthusiasm around AI and of course the AI darling in the room is Nvidia," said Jason Ware, chief investment officer at Albion Financial Group in Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Markets are looking at Nvidia with a little bit of anxiety, maybe, given that we have a market that's done so well and maybe in order to keep it going short term we need to see a good report from the leader in the space and that leader is Nvidia," said Ware.

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