By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks wavered between small gains and losses Wednesday, as investors awaited minutes from the Federal Reserve's last meeting and possible clues as to monetary-policy moves ahead.
"Even though stocks seem prepared for a post-QE [quantitative easing] world, any data that would hint at an altered, or quickened, trajectory of a QE exit might still cause some stress," noted Jared Levy, senior equity strategist at Zacks.com, in emailed commentary.
After rising as much as 27 points and falling 32, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) was recently off 28.65 points, or 0.2%, at 15,271.69.
Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) paced blue-chip gains that included 10 of the Dow's 30 components after Citigroup upgraded the PC maker.
The S&P 500 index (SPX) fell 3.06 points, or 0.2%, to 1,649.26, with financials the heaviest weight and health care the best performing of its 10 big sectors.
A day after closing at a more-than 12-year high, the Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) climbed 3.12 points, or 0.1%, to 3,507.35.
For every three stocks rising, four fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 130 million shares traded by 10:40 a.m. Eastern.
Composite volume neared 633 million.
The dollar index (DXY) retrenched from a three-year high and the yen (USDJPY) climbed as the Bank of Japan began a two-day session, with the BOJ expected to leave its bond-purchasing program as is.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note (10_YEAR) rose to 2.647%, with the government slated to auction $21 billion of the securities later in the session.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, crude-oil futures for August delivery (CLQ3) rose 1.9% to $105.47 a barrel, after hitting a high of $105.62, its most costly level in more than a year. Government data on Wednesday had supplies falling far more than expected last week.
The government on Tuesday hiked its oil-price prediction for the year, estimating an average $94.65 a barrel, up from a June forecast of $93.25.
Gold futures for August delivery(GCQ3) rose 1.1% to $1,259.20 an ounce on the Comex. The metal price has rebounded in recent sessions after hitting a near three-year low at the end of June.
The Federal Open Market Committee will release minutes of its June 18-19 meeting at 2 p.m. Eastern time. At a press conference following the last meeting, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank could start reducing its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases later this year. See preview.
Bernanke will speak at a conference on Wednesday to discuss the Fed's first 100 years, with a question-and-answer session to follow. The speech will begin shortly after Wall Street's regular session closes.
Family Dollar Stores Inc.'s (FDO) shares gained 3.4% after the discount retailer reported quarterly earnings that beat estimates.
Fastenal Co. (FAST) shares fell 3.1% after the maker of fasteners, bolts and other construction supplies reported quarterly revenue that fell short of estimates.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
July 10, 2013 10:50 ET (14:50 GMT)
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