Wall Street ended another volatile trading day on Wednesday with an uneven finish in major stocks ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.
The S&P 500 rallied 0.2% after hovering between small gains and losses for most of the morning. The benchmark index recovered its positions in the last hour of trading.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell less than 0.1 percent after falling 0.6 percent in the beginning. The Nasdaq rose 0.4 percent, gaining from an afternoon rally in tech stocks.
The Federal Reserve released the minutes of its October policy meeting, which showed that Fed officials discussed how they would “not hesitate” to take appropriate action to address inflationary pressures that pose risks to the economy.
The minutes also showed that Fed officials argued that the surge in inflation this year was still likely to be temporary, while acknowledging that the rise in prices was more significant than expected. The protocol encompassed a meeting where the Fed voted to take first steps to phase out the massive support it provided to an economy struggling to recover from the global pandemic.
Supply chain issues and inflation pressures have been key concerns for a wide range of industries. Many companies have warned that they are having trouble meeting demand and that they are dealing with higher raw material costs. These higher costs are passed on to consumers who pay more for everything from food and other food items to a wide variety of retail products.
“You have an environment where supply chain problems start to tire people,” said Eric Friedman, chief investment officer at US Bank Wealth Management.
The S&P 500 Index rose 10.76 points to 4,701.46 points. Last Thursday, the index set an all-time high. The Dow fell 9.42 points to 35,804.38, while the Nasdaq added 70.09 points to 15,845.23.
Small stocks also rose. The Russell 2000 Index added 3.60 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2331.46.
Slightly more stocks in the S&P 500 were down than up. Stocks gains in technology, real estate and energy outweighed downturns in banks, materials companies and other market sectors.
Investors followed the latest batch of quarterly reports. PC maker HP rose 10.10%, the largest gain in the S&P 500 after reporting strong financial results. Autodesk shares fell 15.5% after the software company warned investors that the pace of its recovery was dependent on supply chain problems and inflation pressures.
A number of retailers who rely on direct consumer spending have also become volatile. Etsy’s online craft market grew 6.2%. The gap fell 24.1% after the apparel chain reported supply chain problems weighed down its profits and revenues in the third quarter. Department store operator Nordstrom fell 29% after reporting weak third-quarter earnings.
Energy stocks rose as crude oil prices remained relatively stable and natural gas prices rose. Devon Energy shares rose 3.8 percent.
Bond yields were mixed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond fell to 1.64 percent from 1.67 percent on Tuesday night. This has put pressure on banks, which rely on higher yields to charge more lucrative interest on loans. JPMorgan Chase shares fell 0.8 percent.
The latest data on consumer spending showed that it rose 1.3% in October, according to data from the Commerce Department. This is a little more than double the amount in September.
Otherwise, this week was calm and short for investors. Markets will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving and will close early on Friday.
Investors received some upbeat economic news on Wednesday.
The Commerce Department said the US economy slowed to a moderate annual growth rate of 2.1 percent in October-December, slightly better than its first estimate. But economists are forecasting a sustained rebound in the current quarter unless rising inflation and the recent surge in COVID cases undermine activity.
The Labor Department said the number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits fell to its lowest level in more than half a century last week, another sign that the U.S. job market is rapidly recovering from last year’s coronavirus recession.
Damian J. Troyaz and Alex Veiga