Stocks finished higher Wednesday. The Dow gained 63 points to 25,954 while the S&P 500 added 4 points to 2,784. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 2 points to 7,489.
The major averages modestly advanced as investors digested the Federal Reserve minutes from the January policy meeting. The release reiterated patience in the future path of interest rate hikes as policy makers continue to assess the risks of a global economic slowdown. Also notable, the minutes showed that the Fed may suspend its balance sheet reduction program as early as year-end 2019. Treasuries were little changed with the yield on the 10-year note unchanged at 2.64%. On the data front, the lone economic update showed mortgage applications rebounded 3.6% in the most recent week as mortgage rates fell to a 12-month low.
Seven of 11 S&P 500 sectors ended in positive territory. The Materials group paced gains with DowDuPont adding 3.0% to $56.24. Healthcare shares were a notable underperformer with CVS Health slipping 8.1% to $64.22 after the drugstore operator fell short of analyst revenue expectations, citing its recent acquisition of Aetna as a headwind. In other earnings news, Garmin surged 17.0% to $83.06 after the company topped Wall Street profit projections and raised its forward guidance.
Breadth was positive on issues by 2:1 on the NYSE and even on the Nasdaq. Composite NYSE volume was more than 3.8 billion shares.
In commodities, WTI crude added 1.5% to $56.92/barrel. COMEX gold lost 0.1% to $1,338.50/ounce amid a stronger dollar.