* Lowe's and Tiffany drop on disappointing results
* Indexes up: Dow 0.3 pct, S&P 500 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.3 pct
(Updates with reaction to Fed minutes)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, May 24 U.S. stocks were volatile but
still slightly higher on Wednesday after minutes of the Federal
Reserve's latest meeting showed policymakers agreed they should
hold off on raising rates until evidence a recent economic
slowdown was transitory.
The S&P financial index was down 0.3 percent,
falling after the release of the minutes, while S&P utilities
index was up 0.6 percent and among the day's
Nearly all policymakers at the May 2-3 meeting also said
they favored starting the winding down of the Fed's massive
holdings of Treasury debt and mortgage-backed securities this
"We had a good jobs report earlier this month... I think as
long May (jobs) number is OK, the'll probably still tighten in
June," said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at
JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut.
He noted that trading was slow ahead of the minutes. "Yes,
we moved following the minutes, but we almost weren't moving
prior to it."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 68.29 points,
or 0.33 percent, to 21,006.2, the S&P 500 had gained 4.54
points, or 0.19 percent, to 2,402.96 and the Nasdaq Composite
had added 16.42 points, or 0.27 percent, to 6,155.13.
While recent economic data has been mixed, with signs of a dip
in consumer sentiment and spending, the job market continues to
strengthen. That could give the Fed impetus to continue with its
path of monetary tightening.
The retail sector issued more results that were
Lowe's dropped 2.5 percent after the home
improvement chain reported a lower-than-expected profit and
Jewelry retailer Tiffany sank 8.2 percent after
posting a surprise drop in comparable sales. Signet Jewelers
, which reports on Thursday, was down 7.2 percent. The
two were the biggest losers on the S&P.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
The S&P 500 posted 44 new 52-week highs and 12 new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 86 new highs and 48 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal in Bengaluru; Editing by
Savio D'Souza and Nick Zieminski)