Market Snapshot: Stock market edges lower ahead of Fed minutes

U.S. stock-market indexes set intraday all-time highs shortly after the open on Wednesday, but drifted into negative territory in preholiday trade as investors awaited minutes of the Federal Reserve’s November policy meeting.

Trading volume is expected to remain light, as legions of traders take the day before Thanksgiving off.

See: When do markets close for Thanksgiving?

What are the main benchmarks doing?

The S&P 500 SPX, -0.07%  was off by less than a point at 2,597 with seven of the 11 main sectors trading lower. Technology shares were leading the losses, down 0.3%, but energy shares were up 0.6%, thanks to a jump in oil prices.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.23% was down 32 points, or 0.1%, at 23,558. Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.03%  was virtually flat at 6,865.

Tepid moves on Wednesday follow solid gains during the previous session when all three gauges finished at all-time closing highs.

The three equity benchmarks are up between 16% and 27% for the year as of Tuesday’s close, helped by factors such as an expanding U.S. economy, low returns for bonds, growth in corporate profits and bets that the Trump administration will deliver tax cuts and other business-friendly policies.

What are strategists saying?

“Trading volumes are really thin today, which is not surprising given it’s a holiday tomorrow,” said Kim Forrest, senior analyst and portfolio manager at Fort Pitt Capital Group.

Forrest noted that as long as the economy continues to grow, companies will be able to grow revenues.

“With unemployment at such low levels, companies will have to either raise wages, hire more people or invest in capital expenditures. Any of those will result in higher demand and bode well for many industries,” Forrest said.

Read: History suggests the stock market is poised for a big turkey bump

What could help drive markets?

On the Federal Reserve front, minutes from the central bank’s meeting that ended Nov. 1 are due at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. The minutes are widely expected to show the Fed is poised to raise its benchmark short-term interest rate, to a range of 1.25% to 1.5%, at its Dec. 12-13 meeting.

Read: Fed minutes likely to green light hike in December, but inflation debate still unsettled

And see: MarketWatch’s Economic Calendar

Durable-goods orders fell 1.2% in October, well below the MarketWatch forecast of a 0.7% gain. Excluding transportation orders increased 0.4%.

Initial jobless claims, a tool to measure U.S. layoffs, fell by 13,000 to 239,000 in the week ended Nov. 18. That’s below the 240,000 estimate of economists polled by MarketWatch.

The University of Michigan’s latest read on consumer sentiment came in at 98.5, topping expectations for a reading of 98.0.

Which stocks look like key movers?

Shares in Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. HPE, -8.29%  fell 8%, logging the S&P 500’s largest drop. The corporate-tech giant said late Tuesday that CEO Meg Whitman is departing and gave a disappointing first-quarter outlook.

First Take: Meg Whitman leaves behind a fractured HP with no guarantees

HP Inc. HPQ, -6.95%  shares were down more than 7%, after the maker of printers and PCs released its earnings report late Tuesday. The stock was the S&P’s second-biggest loser ahead of the open.

Enterprise software company Salesforce.com Inc. CRM, -1.94%  shed 1.2% after its fourth-quarter earnings outlook missed estimates.

On the upside, shares in Deere & Co. DE, +4.33%  rose 3.2% for the S&P largest premarket gain after the maker of tractors and combines posted better-than-expected quarterly results ahead of the open.

What are other assets doing?

European stocks SXXP, -0.27% traded mostly higher, while Asian markets largely closed with gains. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HSI, +0.62%  rose 0.6%, topping 30,000 for the first time in a decade.

Oil futures US:CLZ7  rose sharply but pulled back from intraday highs after data showed domestic crude supplies fell by less than expected last week. The ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, -0.47% inched lower, while gold futures GCZ7, +0.67%  edged higher.

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