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* Indexes: Dow down 0.24 pct, S&P flat, Nasdaq off 0.06 pct (Updates prices in late afternoon)
By Sinéad Carew
NEW YORK Oct 17 (Reuters) - Wall Street struggled for direction on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve released meeting minutes showing broad agreement on the need to raise borrowing costs further despite sharp criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump over interest rate hikes.
The S&P 500 zigzagged between positive and negative territory after the minutes showed policy makers united on the September hike and anticipating that further gradual increases would be consistent with the economic expansion, labor market strength, and firm inflation that most anticipated.
“This is consistent with the Fed’s rhetoric that they will continue to gradually raise interest rates. A lot has to happen for the Fed not to move again in December,” said Ryan Sweet, head Of monetary policy research at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania. “There will be no more hand-holding with the Fed.”
Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group in Minneapolis, said some traders used the minutes as a reason to change direction.
“Whatever way you lean, you could find something in here to bolster your case,” said Paulsen. “This has more to do with technical trading. We were (near) the highs of the day when it hit. I’m wondering if you were holding at the lows of the day before it hit, you’d have had the opposite impact.”
At 3:06 p.m. ET (2006 ET), the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 60.83 points, or 0.24 percent, to 25,737.59, the S&P 500 lost 0.14 points, or 0.00 percent, to 2,809.78 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 4.97 points, or 0.06 percent, to 7,640.52.
By Wednesday, U.S. equities had only partially recovered ground lost in a massive sell-off the week before when it marked its biggest losses since March.
Before the minutes, trading had already been choppy, and the S&P 500 struggled to build on the previous day’s rally after disappointing housing data dragged down stocks such as Home Depot Inc and homebuilders.
Of the S&P’s 11 major sectors, financials was the biggest gainer, up 0.96 percent. Materials was the biggest loser , down 0.9 percent.
Home Depot shares were down around 4 percent while the PHLX Housing index was down 1.8 percent.
Among the brighter spots was Netflix, which rose 4.3 percent, after reporting blowout subscriber addition numbers.
United Airlines Inc shares climbed 6 percent after a solid third-quarter profit and again raising its 2018 outlook. That also lifted other airline stocks.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.69-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.38-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted three new 52-week highs and 11 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 11 new highs and 70 new lows. (Additional reporting by Richard Leong in New York, Medha Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan Thomas and Jonathan Oatis)