Stocks ended a wobbly day lower on Wall Street after a late-afternoon drop erased the tentative gains major indexes had been clinging to for much of the day. The S&P 500 fell 11.81 points, or 0.3%, to 3,577.03 Wednesday, its sixth consecutive loss. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 28.34 points, or 0.1%, to 29,210.85. The Nasdaq fell 9.09 points, or 0.1%, to 10,417.10, Yields on the 2-year and 10-year Treasury notes ended lower. Stocks had waffled between gains and losses for much of the day as traders parsed a report from the government that showed inflation at the wholesale level eased last month, though it was a bit worse than expected. Crude oil prices fell.
The indexes were little changed following the release of the minutes from the Federal Reserve's last interest rate policy meeting, the AP reports. The minutes from the central bank's Sept. 20-21 meeting show Fed officials stressed their commitment to taming "unacceptably high" inflation before announcing another hefty interest rate hike and signaling more large rate increases ahead. They judged that a "softening of the labor market"—likely including higher unemployment—would be needed to curb the nation’s inflationary pressures. "The Fed minutes didn’t contain a lot of new information, but they did reiterate their intention to erring on the side of doing too much, rather than too little," said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at the Independent Advisor Alliance.
Gins in consumer goods companies, energy stocks and retailers helped keep losses elsewhere in the market in check. PepsiCo rose 4.2% after raising its profit forecast for the year following encouraging quarterly financial results. Cruise line operators were among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500. Carnival rose 9.9%, Norwegian Cruise Line gained 11.6%, and Royal Caribbean climbed 11.5%. The corporate earnings season begins in earnest this week. Domino's Pizza and Walgreens will report their results on Thursday. Big banks, including Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, will report results on Friday. A closely watched report on consumer prices is due Thursday and data on retail sales for September is due Friday. (Read more stock market stories.)