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Stocks tick higher as Fed minutes lay out taper

·2 min read

U.S. stock indexes ticked higher Wednesday after minutes from the latest Fed meeting showed the central bank's tapering could begin next month and consumer prices surged at the fastest annual pace in 13 years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was little changed while the S&P 500 index rose 0.31% and the Nasdaq Composite index advanced 0.73% in a choppy session.

The consumer price index showed prices rose 5.4% year over year in September, matching July for the biggest annual increase since 2008. Prices were up 0.4% month over month.

The report was released hours before the minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting indicated the central bank could begin scaling back its $120 billion per month in asset purchases as soon as its November meeting. The process, which is expected to conclude by July, would precede any interest rate hikes.

In stocks, J.P. Morgan reported earnings and revenue that exceeded Wall Street estimates, fueled by deal-making and loan growth. The Wall Street bank benefitted from the release of $2.1 billion of loan loss reserves that were built up to ride out the pandemic.

BlackRock Inc. beat on both the top and bottom lines as assets under management rose to $9.46 trillion from $7.81 trillion, boosting fee income.

Elsewhere, Delta Air Lines Inc. posted its second quarterly profit since the start of the pandemic but warned higher fuel costs will weigh on current quarter results.

Qualcomm shares ticked higher after announcing plans to buy back $10 billion in stock.

Meanwhile, Hasbro Inc. CEO Brian Goldner died Tuesday following a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. Goldner went on medical leave on Monday and was replaced by independent board member Rich Stoddart on an interim basis.

HASBRO CEO DIES AT AGE 58

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil slid 20 cents to $80.44 a barrel while gold jumped $35.40 to $1793.70 an ounce.

Overseas markets were mostly higher.

In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.16% while France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX 30 were higher by 0.75% and 0.68%, respectively.

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Trade in Asia was choppy with Japan’s Nikkei 225 losing 0.32% and China’s Shanghai Composite edging up 0.42%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was closed for holiday.