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Stocks Struggle to Find Direction


U.S. stocks wobbled Wednesday as investors awaited notes from the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting for clues on how officials view inflation and the pace of economic recovery.

All three major U.S. stock indexes swung between gains and losses as stocks struggled to find direction. In recent trading, the broad benchmark S&P 500 edged up less than 0.1%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost about 15 points, or 0.1%. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell 0.1%.

U.S. stock trading volumes have fallen in recent days as volatility in both the stock and bond markets have calmed. On Tuesday, the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq both saw their lowest volume day of the year.

“I’m like, ‘Is my computer off? Nothing [on my screen] is changing,’” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade. He added that as investors prepare to parse the Fed’s minutes at 2 p.m. ET, “nobody wants to get ahead of that. You don’t want to put all your chips on one side before you see the notes.”

Investors have been closely watching for clues from the central bank in recent months as concerns about inflation have swelled. Some have worried that continued economic growth, coupled with government spending, could prompt the Fed to pull back on its support of the economy and markets earlier than expected.

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