Stock market fights to scale new heights with Fed minutes, earnings ahead – MarketWatch

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U.S. stock benchmarks on Wednesday traded little changed, with the Dow industrials hovering around record territory as investors await the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s September meeting, along with a ramp up for third-quarter corporate earnings season.

What are stocks doing?

Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.01%  edged up 5 points, or less than 0.1%, to 22,839, while S&P 500 index SPX, -0.05%  inched down by less than a point to 2,550. Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.11%  also traded flat at 6,585.

Read: Investors face ‘extreme mental exhaustion’ in markets where nothing is ‘normal’

On Tuesday, the blue-chip Dow rose 0.3% to end at an all-time closing high of 22,830.68. The S&P 500 added 0.2%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite tacked on 0.1%, as those two gauges finished just below their record closes last week.

The Dow has gained nearly 16% for the year, the S&P is up 14%, and the Nasdaq has risen 22%.

What are strategists saying?

The release of the Fed minutes is “today’s key event, with traders looking for further insight into the Fed’s interest-rate plans,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a note.

“With third-quarter earnings season getting under way—including results from Delta and BlackRock today and J.P. Morgan and Citigroup tomorrow—there should be no shortage of newsflow,” he added.

What could move the markets?

The Fed minutes are scheduled to arrive at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, and a report on August job openings is due to hit at 10 a.m. Eastern.

Check out: MarketWatch’s Economic Calendar

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said one more rate-increase before the end of 2017 isn’t set in stone, during a speech in Zurich. Wall Street is pricing in a more than 90% chance of a rate increase by the end of the year according to CME Group data.

Later Wednesday, San Francisco Fed President John Williams will give a speech in Salt Lake City, Utah at 2:40 p.m. Eastern, and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic will discuss balance-sheet normalization in Hong Kong at 8 p.m. Eastern.

See: Investors face ‘extreme mental exhaustion’ in markets where nothing is ‘normal’

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares in BlackRock Inc. BLK, +0.88%  rise after the investment manager posted better-than-expected quarterly results.

Delta Air Lines Inc.’s stock DAL, +0.34% also gains after the carrier’s results topped forecasts.

Read more: Third-quarter earnings seen as ‘an easy beat,’ could set up more stock market records

Micron Technology Inc.’s stock MU, -1.50%  fell after the memory-chip company late Tuesday said it would sell about $1 billion in new shares.

Barracuda Networks Inc. CUDA, -10.80%  is set to see active trading after the cloud-computing company late Tuesday matched estimates for earnings and topped those for revenue and billings.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. shares BABA, +0.41% may attract attention after the Chinese e-commerce giant said it would nearly triple spending on cutting-edge research, as it tries to keep pace with Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, +0.23% and Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, +0.42%

What are other assets doing?

European stocks SXXP, -0.10%  were mixed, with Spain’s IBEX gauge IBEX, +1.11%  rallying as worries eased a bit about Catalonia’s push for independence. Catalan President Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday suspended the independence process for the region, but Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday fanned the flames in the conflict, suggesting he’s edging toward suspending Catalonia’s autonomy.

Asian markets closed with gains as Japan’s Nikkei benchmark NIK, +0.28%  scored its highest close in more than two decades.

Oil futures CLX7, +0.12%  advanced, while gold futures GCZ7, -0.12%  and a key dollar index DXY, -0.28% pulled back.