Stocks edge higher in early morning ahead of Fed minutes

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks shook off an early loss and are edging higher in morning trading Wednesday as investors wait for minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last policy meeting. They’ll be looking for any hints on whether the Fed will raise interest rates next month. Consumer goods retailers dropped after Target reported weak sales.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 26 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,548 at 10:15 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 4 points, or less than 0.2 percent, to 2,051. The Nasdaq composite gained 28 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,744.

HIGHER RATES? Traders will be studying the minutes from the Fed’s meeting later Wednesday for clues as to how worried policymakers are about inflation and the economic outlook. Most investors do not expect a rate increase next month, but some are worried as the economy continues to improve and inflation picks up.

TARGET TUMBLE: Target fell $6.48, or 8.8 percent, to $67.13 after reporting that earnings beat expectations but that sales had slowed. The company also gave a forecast that disappointed investors. Shares of almost every retailer in the market followed suit in what is shaping up to be a miserable year for the sector.

EXCEPT FOR LOWE’S: The home improvement chain Lowe’s rose $2.40, or 3 percent, to $78.47 after it reported surging first-quarter profits and comparable-store sales and boosted its outlook for the year. The chain is benefiting from a strengthening U.S. housing market.

EUROPE’S DAY: Germany’s DAX fell 0.1 percent and France’s CAC 40 was flat. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.5 percent.

ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s Nikkei 225 index was flat. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.5 percent. South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.6 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.7 percent.

ENERGY: U.S. crude oil rose 31 cents to $48.62 a barrel in New York, adding to a string of gains. Brent crude, used to price international oils, rose 19 cents to $49.47 a barrel in London.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: U.S. government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.82 percent from 1.71 percent late Tuesday. The dollar rose to 109.76 yen from 109.07 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1286 from $1.1317.

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