U.S. Stocks Turning In Mixed Performance Ahead Of Fed Minutes

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After closing lower for three straight sessions, the major U.S. stock indexes are turning in a mixed performance in morning trading on Wednesday. While the tech-heavy Nasdaq is holding on to a modest, the Dow and the S&P 500 have turned negative after seeing initial strength.

The Nasdaq has pulled back well off its highs of the session but remains up 28.99 points or 0.2 percent at 14,494.91. Meanwhile, the Dow is down 177.03 points or 0.5 percent at 34,201.31 and the S&P 500 is down 12.68 points or 0.3 percent at 4,337.97.

The mixed performance on Wall Street comes as trader look ahead to this afternoon's release of the minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting.

The minutes of the Fed's September meeting may shed additional light on the central bank's plans to scale back its asset purchases.

Traders are also digesting a report from the Labor Department showing consumer prices in the U.S. increased by slightly more than anticipated in the month of September.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index climbed by 0.4 percent in September after rising by 0.3 percent in August. Economists had been expecting another 0.3 percent increase.

Excluding higher prices for food and energy, core consumer prices edged up by 0.2 percent in September after inching up by 0.1 percent in August. The uptick in core prices matched economist estimates.

The report also showed the annual rate of growth in consumer prices accelerated to 5.4 percent in September from 5.3 percent in August, while the annual rate of growth in core prices was unchanged at 4.0 percent.

On the earnings front, shares of Delta Air Lines (DAL) have moved sharply lower after the airline beat third quarter estimates but warned of a fourth quarter loss due to higher fuel costs.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM) has also moved to the downside even though the financial giant reported third quarter results that exceeded analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines.

On the other hand, asset management firm Blackrock (BLK) is posting a strong gain after reporting better than expected third quarter earnings and revenues.

With Delta Air Lines helping lead the way lower, airline stocks have shown a substantial move to the downside, dragging the NYSE Arca Airline Index down by 2.5 percent.

Considerable weakness is also visible among banking stocks, as reflected by the 1.7 percent drop by the KBW Bank Index.

On the other hand, gold stocks have moved sharply higher on the day, driving the NYSE Arca Gold Bugs Index up by 3.1 percent to its best intraday level in a month.

The rally by gold stocks comes amid a significant increase by the price of the precious metal, with gold for December delivery surging $29.70 to $1,789 an ounce.

Tobacco stocks are also turning in a strong performance in morning trading, resulting in a 2.4 percent jump by the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.3 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index rose by 0.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the upside on the day. While the German DAX Index has advanced by 0.6 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is up by 0.4 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is up by 0.1 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved higher after fluctuating early in the session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 4.3 basis points at 1.537 percent.

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