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Stocks fall, but indexes volatile after Fed minutes

STORY: U.S. stocks ended lower on Wednesday, but cut earlier losses after investors saw minutes from the Federal Reserve's meeting in July that suggested policymakers may be less aggressive than previously thought when they raise interest rates in September.

The Dow fell half a percent. The S&P 500 lost nearly three quarters of a percent, while the Nasdaq fell a percent and quarter.

David Bahnsen, managing partner of The Bahnsen Group, said the Fed minutes reinforced the idea that the U.S. central bank might let up on rate hikes.

“The markets believe that the Fed is going to continue tightening and talking a certain way, but that they're not going to go any worse or any further than people previously thought. And if the minutes reinforce that we're closer to the end than the beginning, then markets always price these things in ahead of time. Markets are discounting mechanisms, and so that may very well be how markets are responding to the FOMC minutes."

Stocks had been down more sharply ahead of the minutes, with growth shares such as Amazon and chipmaker Nvidia coming under pressure as bond yields rose.

Dismal results from Target, shares of which declined 2.72%, weighed on the retail sector.

But not shares of Lowe's, which stayed in positive territory after the home improvement chain posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit.

And, finally, U.S.-listed shares of Manchester United scored a 6.96% gain after Elon Musk said he was buying the British soccer club - only to say it was all part of "a long-running joke."

But later, a source told Reuters that billionaire Jim Ratcliffe said he was interested in buying the franchise.