NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks edged higher on Wednesday (Feb 20) after Federal Reserve minutes further signaled the US central bank's dovish posture on monetary policy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.2 per cent at 25,954.44.
The broad-based S&P 500 also gained 0.2 per cent to 2,784.70, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index edged up less than 0.1 per cent to 7,489.07.
The Fed minutes lent color to the central bank's decision of Jan 30 to not raise interest rates and hinted at caution towards further tightening, saying US growth would "step down" from last year's rapid pace.
"Anyone thinking maybe the Fed did not intend to send the message Powell delivered at the press conference can stop wondering," said FTN Financial's Chris Low. "The Fed really is on long-term hold and the next policy move really could be a cut."
US stocks rose just after the minutes were released at 1900 GMT (3am on Thursday, Singapore time) but pulled back after that around the same time President Donald Trump said he could impose tariffs on European auto imports if there was no new trade deal with the EU.
Investors are also eyeing key trade talks between the Trump administration and Chinese officials.
"Unless we have an absolute disaster, like a recession or Trump calling off the trade talks, the stock market is going to go higher," said LBBW's Karl Haeling.
"There is a lot of cash out there."
CVS Health dived 8.1 per cent after reporting an annual loss following a US$6.1 billion (S$8.2 billion) write-down of its 2015 Omnicare, which provides pharmacy services to long-term care facilities.
American Airlines, United Continental and Delta Air Lines were all down about one percent after smaller rival Southwest Airlines said the US government shutdown dented business more than previously thought.
Southwest now expects a negative revenue hit of US$60 million, up from the previous projection of US$10 to US$15 million. Shares of Southwest slumped 5.7 per cent.