- All three major U.S. stock indexes gained some ground and the S&P 500 and the Dow were last in positive territory, with economically-sensitive small caps and transports lagging.
NEW YORK: U.S. stocks inched higher and Treasury yields regained some ground following release of the Federal Reserve's minutes, in which the central bank said that while showing signs of progress, the economic recovery remains far from complete.
All three major U.S. stock indexes gained some ground and the S&P 500 and the Dow were last in positive territory, with economically-sensitive small caps and transports lagging.
"The absence of any bad news has the market up some," said Peter Tuz, president of Chase Investment Counsel in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The U.S. Federal Reserve released the minutes from its most recent monetary policy meeting, in which the participants agreed that while the economy is improving, it remains well below the central bank's goals.
They also stressed the importance of communicating progress well in advance of any potential taper.
"We got the statement we were looking for," Tuz added.
"People are taking the Fed at its word that we're going to see low rates for a long time, and we'll get plenty of warning when the time comes (to raise rates)."
"The market got the statement it was looking for."
While recent data, particularly Friday's jobs report, suggest the U.S. economic recovery is gaining momentum, labor market progress remains well below the Fed's threshold for reining in its easy monetary policy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 14.82 points, or 0.04pc, to 33,415.42, the S&P 500 gained 5.52 points, or 0.14pc, to 4,079.46 and the Nasdaq Composite added 10.73 points, or 0.08pc, to 13,709.11.
European stocks inched lower, closing just below record highs, while optimism over speedy inoculations and the soft pound sterling powered the UK's exporter-laden FTSE 100's 0.9pc advance.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.22pc and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe pc.
Emerging market stocks lost 0.66pc. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan closed 0.64pc lower, while Japan's Nikkei rose 0.12pc.
U.S. Treasury yields were essentially unchanged on Wednesday, regaining some ground after the release of the Fed minutes. But longer-dated yields advanced.
Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 1/32 in price to yield 1.6526pc, down from 1.656pc late on Tuesday.
The 30-year bond last fell 13/32 in price to yield 2.3362pc, up from 2.316pc late on Tuesday.
The dollar was last nominally higher, but remained close to two-week lows against a basket of world currencies due to profit taking and weakened bond yields.
The dollar index rose 0.07pc, with the euro down 0.03pc to $1.1872.
The Japanese yen weakened 0.03pc versus the greenback at 109.80 per dollar, while the British pound was last trading at $1.3736, down 0.63pc on the day.
Crude oil prices pulled back gasoline stocks unexpectedly swelled, fanning worries over weak demand.
U.S. crude settled at $59.77 per barrel, up 0.74pc, while Brent gained 0.67pc to settle at $63.16 per barrel.
Gold prices dipped as economic optimism drew investors away from the safe-haven metal in favor of riskier assets.
Spot gold dropped 0.2pc to $1,739.68 an ounce.