US STOCKS-Wall Street edges down ahead of Fed minutes

Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:45am EDT

* Minutes from Fed's June meeting due

* Market dips after four-day climb

* Family Dollar shares at seven-month high after earnings

* Dow off 0.2 pct, S&P off 0.2 pct, Nasdaq up 0.1 pct

By Alison Griswold

NEW YORK, July 10 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged lower on Wednesday, stalling after a four-day rally as attention turned to the afternoon release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's June meeting.

The minutes from the June 18-19 meeting of the U.S. Federal Open Market Committee will be released at 2:00 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), and scrutinized by investors for any hints on the central bank's plan to wind down its massive monetary stimulus.

"I think all eyes are really on that Fed meeting and the minutes that come out," said Anthony Conroy, head trader for ConvergEx in New York.

"People are trying to figure out exactly when, how big, and how quickly, so that's bringing a little bit of nervousness."

Family Dollar Stores Inc gained 4.3 percent to $66.74 and was the S&P 500's best performer after the discount chain posted quarterly earnings. The company's shares were trading at a seven-month high.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 31.18 points, or 0.20 percent, at 15,269.16. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 3.30 points, or 0.20 percent, at 1,649.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 2.11 points, or 0.06 percent, at 3,506.37.

The S&P 500 rose 2.4 percent in the past four sessions, pushing the benchmark index to within 1 percent of its May 21 all-time closing high of 1,669.16. Those gains came largely on waning fears about imminent reductions to the Fed's $85 billion a month in bond purchases.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke spooked investors last month when he said the economy was expanding strongly enough for the central bank to start slowing the pace of its purchases later this year. Firms that deal directly with the Fed currently see the reductions beginning in September, according to a Reuters poll.

Bernanke will speak at 4:10 p.m. (2010 GMT) before the National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Like the minutes, his comments will be eyed for clues about the Fed's stimulus plans.

According to Thomson Reuters data through Wednesday morning, analysts expect S&P 500 earnings to grow 2.6 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, while revenue is forecast to increase 1.5 percent from a year ago.

Financial shares were weakest, with PNC Financial Services dropping 2.6 percent to $74.27 and Wells Fargo & Co down 1.9 percent to $41.91.

After the close, earnings are expected from fast-food restaurant operator Yum Brands Inc.

Nabors Industries Ltd fell 5.4 percent to $15.13 and was the worst performers on the S&P 500 after the owner of the world's largest land-drilling rig fleet, warned on Tuesday that its second-quarter operating profit would fall short of market expectations.

Fastenal Co slipped 2 percent to $46.17 after the industrial and construction supply company posted second-quarter earnings that matched Wall Street expectations.