US stocks mixed after bombshell-free Fed minutes

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, on Feb 16, 2022, in New York City. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished mixed on Wednesday (Feb 16) after spending much of the session deep in the red following Federal Reserve minutes that contained no new bombshells.

Stocks were solidly negative just ahead of the afternoon release of the minutes, which showed central bankers favoring a more aggressive pace of interest rate hikes compared with the last monetary tightening cycle.

Still, investors were already aware of that sentiment at the Fed based on earlier comments from officials, said Tom Cahill of Ventura Wealth Management.

"There was concern that perhaps there could have been some information in there that the market was not already aware of," Cahill said, adding that stocks changed direction in relief.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 0.2 per cent at 34,934.27.

The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.1 per cent to 4,475.01, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 0.1 per cent to 14,124.09 Besides worries over shifting Fed policy, markets have been jittery at the risk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

On Wednesday, western officials expressed skepticism of Russian statements that troops were pulling back from the Ukraine border, saying there was little or no evidence supporting the statements.

In other economic news, US retail sales jumped more than expected in January, while industrial production also came in unexpectedly strong.

Among individual companies, Airbnb jumped 3.7 per cent as the home rental company reported better-than-expected results and said strong bookings indicated minimal impact from the latest Covid-19 wave.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.