Stocks swing as investors weigh economic reports, Fed minutes

U.S. stocks wobbled in back-and-forth trading Wednesday as investors weighed a batch of economic data and minutes from the Federal Reserve’s December policy meeting.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) was up a modest 0.1% in the afternoon, falling from a session high of more than 1% after minutes came in more hawkish than anticipated. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) fell 0.2%, and the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) was roughly flat.

A readout of discussions from the U.S. central bank’s December gathering indicated Fed officials were reticent an “unwarranted” easing of financial conditions could backtrack their efforts to restore price stability, while also acknowledging the need for more policy flexibility.

“Participants noted that, because monetary policy worked importantly through financial markets, an unwarranted easing in financial conditions, especially if driven by a misperception by the public of the committee’s reaction function, would complicate the committee’s effort to restore price stability,” minutes of the Fed’s Dec. 13-14 meeting stated.

Policymakers set to convene again January 31-February 1 and expected to deliver the first rate increase of 2023 and eighth of the current hiking cycle at the conclusion of discussions. Last month, the Fed raised interest rates by 50 basis points, bringing total increases to its benchmark policy rate to 4.25% in 2022.

“The Fed minutes are a good reminder for investors to expect rates to remain high throughout all of…

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