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MARKET SNAPSHOT: Dow Clings To Meager Gain With Record Streak At Risk After Fed Minutes

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02/22/2017 | 08:59pm CET

By Sue Chang and Anora Mahmudova, MarketWatch

Fed minutes indicate more comfort with a near-term rate hike

The Dow ticked higher in its attempt to log its best record-setting streak in three decades, but the broader equity market struggled Wednesday as the Federal Reserve minutes implied that the central bank is comfortable with raising interest rates "fairly soon."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 10 points, or less than 0.1%, at 20,760. If the blue chip index finishes in positive territory, it will be the longest run of record closes since 1987, according to the Dow Jones Data Group.

The S&P 500 index declined 3 points, or 0.1%, to 2,362, with energy shares falling more than 1% as oil prices tumbled more than 1% after shooting to a 19-month high on Tuesday.

The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 7 points, or 0.1%, to 5,857.

The major U.S. stock indexes closed at records for a second-straight session on Tuesday .

"A rate increase in March is most likely on the table even though the minutes don't necessarily indicate that and it seems the Fed is prepping the market for it," said Bob Pavlik.

"Many" Federal Reserve officials indicated their support for raising rates if the economy continued to strengthen, according to the minutes of the Fed meeting earlier this month . But the transcript also showed a mood of uncertainty over President Donald Trump's fiscal policy plans.

Over the weekend, Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker said that he would support raising interest rates at the FOMC's March meeting if he sees signs of growing inflation and economic growth. Those comments pushed the dollar and U.S. Treasury yields higher early Tuesday.

The risks facing the U.S. economy are more in balance, allowing the Fed to gradually raise interest rates , said Gov. Jerome Powell to the Forecaster's Club of New York.

Meanwhile, some analysts warned that the rally on Wall Street and overly complacent attitude among investors are creating a very dangerous situation.

"Make no mistake, lowering taxes is truly pro-growth and will keep the strong undertone of growth moving ahead. This will, however, mean a tighter monetary policy. Although we recognize that rates are below normal, the fact is that when the tightening process begins, the "full speed ahead" of climbing stocks will run into a brick wall," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial, in emailed notes.

Cardillo recommended to be cautious, as he expects the Fed to deflate exuberance.

Opinion:Market timing is out of favor--so is a stock-market top near?


Stock movers: Shares of Toll Brothers Inc.(>> Toll Brothers Inc) jumped 6.4% after posting a fall in profit and revenue, but rising contracts in five of its markets .

Dish Network Corp.(>> DISH Network Corp) shares rose 0.3% after the company swung to a profit as it reported rising subscriber numbers.

Garmin Ltd.(>> Garmin Ltd.) earnings results in the latest quarters came in much better than expected, sending shares up 6%. The stock is up 30% over the past 12 months.

First Solar Inc.(>> First Solar, Inc.) shares dropped more than 8% as the solar-panel maker reported that it swung to a loss on restructuring charges.

Shares of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.(>> Bristol-Myers Squibb Co) rose 1.7% after news late Tuesday that Carl Icahn has taken a stake in the New York drugmaker. Icahn, who owns a large stake, believes the company's pipeline of drugs would make it an attractive takeover candidate, according to The Wall Street Journal , which cited sources.

Results from Tesla Inc.(>> Tesla Inc), Square Inc.(>> Square Inc), Fitbit Inc.(>> Fitbit Inc), and HP Inc.(>> Hewlett-Packard Company) are expected after the close.

Earnings previews:Tesla , Fitbit , HP

Other markets: Asian markets mostly rose with the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index up 1%. European stocks eased across the board .

The 10-year Treasury yield fell 1 basis point to 2.41%. The dollar gained against the euro , but slipped against the yen. Gold prices settled lower.

--Barbara Kollmeyer contributed to this article.

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