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NEW YORK: US stocks were mixed in early trading Wednesday as traders awaited the minutes of the latest Federal Reserve meeting that could signal when the central bank is likely to hike interest rates.

Before markets opened, payroll services firm ADP reported a surge in private sector hiring in December with 807,000 jobs added, which may signal robust hiring in the Labor Department's official employment report Friday.

However, traders have grown wary of the Fed, which has indicated it may hike rates repeatedly next year to curb inflation, potentially dampening the US stock rally enjoyed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, even as the Omicron variant threatens growth.

The Fed on Wednesday will release the minutes from last month's policy meeting, which could shed light on central bankers' thinking.

"I think the market is just going to play it cautious most of the session, waiting for the Fed minutes," said Peter Cardillo of Spartan Capital Securities.

US stocks begin 2022 on positive note

"Investors now are not worrying over the Omicron (strain) but basically looking forward at the Fed's moves and a strong economy with elevated inflation."

About 25 minutes into trading, the benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average was on the positive side of flat at 36,810.42, a few points higher than its record close Tuesday.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.4 percent at 15,563.36, while the broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent to 4,789.20.

Boeing gained two percent after low-cost airline Allegiant Air announced it would buy 50 of its 737 MAX jets and options for another 50.

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