Stocks muted ahead of Fed minutes

Should investors expect ‘powerful earnings recovery’?

UBS’ David Lefkowitz joins ‘Varney & Co.’ and weighs in on today’s markets.

U.S. equities were little changed on Wednesday ahead of the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 62 points at 33,492.45, while the S&P 500 rose 0.13% and the Nasdaq Composite was lower by 0.13%

The Commerce Department released the U.S. trade balance for February on Wednesday morning. The monthly deficit in goods and services widened to a record-high $71.1 billion, surpassing the prior record of $69 billion in November.

Optimism about a global economic rebound from the pandemic is growing.

President Biden said he is bumping up his coronavirus vaccine deadline for states by two weeks, to April 19, to make all adults in the U.S. eligible for shots, reflecting steady progress in the U.S.

The International Monetary Fund said it expects global economic growth to accelerate this year as vaccine distribution ramps up and the world rebounds. The 190-country lending agency said it expects the world economy to expand 6% in 2021, up from the 5.5% it had forecast in January. That would be the fastest expansion in IMF records dating to 1980.

G20 FINANCE OFFICIALS TO MEET ON PANDEMIC MEASURES, US GLOBAL MINIMUM TAX PLAN

On Wednesday, finance officials from the Group of 20 major economies are poised to back a $650 billion boost in the IMF's emergency reserves and extend a freeze on debt payments as part of an effort to help developing countries still struggling to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The G20 gathering will also give U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen a chance to press for a global minimum tax on corporate profits.

In Europe, London's FTSE added 0.7%, Germany's DAX gained less than 0.1% and France's CAC rose 0.1%.

Asian shares were mixed Wednesday after Wall Street took a breather, with major indexes edging lower.

Japan's benchmark Nikkei added 0.1%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.9% and China's Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.1%.

Trading in Toshiba Corp.'s shares was halted after the Tokyo-based technology conglomerate confirmed it had received a preliminary acquisition proposal.

TOSHIBA GETS TAKEOVER BID FROM PRIVATE EQUITY FIRM CVC

Toshiba Corp. said it was seeking more details on the proposal, giving it “careful consideration” and would make an announcement “in due course.” The Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei reported that CVC Capital Partners was looking into acquiring the company for 2 trillion yen ($18 billion).

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 33405.25 -24.99 -0.07%
SP500 S&P 500 4074.76 +0.82 +0.02%
I:COMP n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
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On Wall Street, stocks finished slightly lower, pulling the market back from all-time highs reached a day earlier. Technology and health care stocks accounted for much of the decline.

The S&P 500 snapped a three-day winning streak, slipping 0.1% to 4,073.94, after wavering between small gains and losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3% to 33,430.24. Both indexes set all-time highs Monday. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite slipped 0.1% to 13,698.38.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that job openings reached the highest level on record in February, a harbinger of healthy hiring and a hopeful sign for those looking for work. That upbeat report follows encouraging reports over the last week on job growth and improvements in the services sector, which is one of the hardest-hit areas of the economy from the pandemic.

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In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude added 45 cents to $59.79 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 68 cents to $59.33 per barrel on Tuesday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 57 cents to $63.31 a barrel.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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