* FOMC minutes show members want more job gains before
* Family Dollar shares at seven-month high after earnings
* Dow off 0.02 pct, S&P 500 flat, Nasdaq up 0.5 pct
By Leah Schnurr
NEW YORK, July 10 U.S. stocks were mostly flat
in choppy trading on Wednesday, stalling after a four-day
winning streak as investors kept trying to gauge when the
Federal Reserve may scale back on its economic stimulus.
Minutes from the Federal Reserve's June policy meeting
released on Wednesday afternoon showed many officials wanted
more reassurance that the labor market was improving before
reining in stimulus measures. Even so, consensus built within
the Fed about the likely need to begin pulling back soon.
The three major U.S. stock indexes recovered some ground
immediately following the release of the minutes, although both
the percentage and point gains for the day at that point were
modest. But the Dow and the S&P 500 subsequently retreated and
turned negative as investors parsed the details of the Fed's
With less than 30 minutes to go before the closing bell,
both the Dow and the S&P 500 traded little changed.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke spooked investors last month when
he said the economy's expansion was strong enough for the
central bank to start slowing the pace of its bond purchases
later this year.
Some in the market have pegged September as when the Fed
could potentially start pulling back, a view that was reinforced
by last week's stronger-than-expected jobs report for June.
"Even though the minutes were more dovish than expected, the
impact of that is somewhat discounted by the continued strength
in the labor market that was seen after the Fed's last meeting,"
said Jake Lowery, Treasury trader at ING Investment Management
The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 2.88 points,
or 0.02 percent, to 15,297.46. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
dipped 0.02 of a point, or unchanged on a percentage
basis, to 1,652.30. But the Nasdaq Composite Index
gained 16.09 points, or 0.46 percent, to 3,520.35.
The three major U.S. stock indexes jumped to session highs
at 2:04 p.m. (1804 GMT) shortly after the FOMC minutes were
released, a Thomson Reuters chart showed. The Dow climbed as
high as 15,348.95 and the S&P 500 rose above 1,657, while the
Nasdaq edged above 3,522. But those gains were short-lived.
The S&P 500 has risen more than 2 percent over the
past five sessions, pushing the benchmark index to just about 1
percent below 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.
Bernanke will speak after the closing bell before the
National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. Like the FOMC minutes, his comments will be eyed
for clues about the Fed's stimulus plans.
In the retail sector, Family Dollar Stores Inc shot
up 8.3 percent to $69.24. The stock was the S&P 500's top
performer after the discount chain posted quarterly earnings and
was trading at a seven-month high.
On the downside, Nabors Industries Ltd slid 6.3
percent to $15. The stock was the S&P 500's worst performer
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.