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U.S. stocks mixed as April Fed minutes signal a delayed rate hike

Stock Markets May 20, 2015 05:00PM ET
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The Dow and S&P 500 fell mildly on Wednesday, while the NASDAQ posted modest gains -- Stocks on the U.S. equities markets were mixed on Wednesday, as the Federal Reserve provided further indications on the implausibility of a June interest rate hike.

Following the release, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Composite index moved into record territory before paring the gains after a late sell-off just before the close. Both indices turned south after a report surfaced from CNBC that the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) acknowledged problems with its methodology in determining its Gross Domestic Product data. First-quarter GDP grew by 0.2%, underscoring "transient factors" in the economy, such as harsh weather conditions that have restrained economic expansion in winter months over the last several years. The BEA is developing methods to address the problem, CNBC reported.

The Dow lost 26.99 or 0.15% to 18,285.40, halting a four-day winning streak. The S&P 500, meanwhile, fell mildly by 1.98 or 0.09% to 2,125.85, as five of 10 sectors closed in the green. Stocks in the Telecommunications, Health Care and Utilities sectors led, while Financials and Consumer Services lagged. The NASDAQ Composite index, the session's outperformer, gained 1.71 or 0.03% to 5,071.74.

Shares in JPMorgan Chase & Co (NYSE:JPM) and Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) fell mildly after a group of five prominent banks agreed to a $5.6 billion deal with the U.S. Department of Justice to settle foreign exchange market manipulation charges. Citigroup agreed to a fine of $925 million, while JP Morgan agreed to pay $550 million for its role in the scandal.

The top performer on the Dow was General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), which gained 0.29 or 1.06% to close at 27.64. The worst performer was EI du Pont de Nemours and Company (NYSE:DD), which fell 0.59 or 0.83% to 70.66.

The Dow Jones Transportation Average plunged 170.14 or 1.96% on the session, as shares among major airlines' companies fell by roughly 10%. On the S&P 500, Southwest Airlines Company (NYSE:LUV) , American Airlines Group (NASDAQ:AAL) and Delta Air Lines Inc (NYSE:DAL) represented the three worst performers on the index. Southwest fell 3.79 or 9.09% to 37.19, after reporting a drop in its current quarter passenger unit revenue. American Airlines lost 4.79 or 10.01% to 43.06, after suffering its worst daily performance since declaring bankruptcy in 2013. American Airlines finished the session as the worst performer on the NASDAQ and S&P 500.

In addition, Delta, JetBlue Airways Corporation (NASDAQ:JBLU) and Spirit Airlines Inc (NASDAQ:SAVE) each fell by at least 5% on the day. While it was speculated that falling energy prices prompted the sell-off, it was not immediately known what precipitated the massive one-day drop in airlines stocks. The top performer on the NASDAQ was Yahoo! Inc (NASDAQ:YHOO), which gained 1.81 or 4.42% to 42.79.

Shares in Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC) soared after reports surfaced that the nation's second-largest cable company has held discussions with French company Altice on a potential merger. Reuters and the Wall Street Journal each confirmed the story on Wednesday.

Time Warner gained 8.55 or 5.41% to 166.55, finishing just behind Cablevision Systems Corporation (NYSE:CVC) as the top performer on the S&P 500. Cablevision Systems surged 3.62 or 17.18% to 24.69. For the year, Cablevision Systems is now up nearly 20%.

U.S. stocks mixed as April Fed minutes signal a delayed rate hike

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