NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks edged lower Wednesday as minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting gave investors few new clues as to when U.S. interest rates may rise.
The S&P 500 snapped a two-day streak of record closing highs.
Minutes of the U.S. central bank's Oct. 28-29 meeting, where policymakers decided to finally end their bond-buying stimulus, indicated a debate among policymakers over the outlook for inflation and the economy.
"The market doesn't really know how to react to this, whether it's a hawkish or dovish statement, but the reality is I think it's a truthful statement that we are in a very interesting spot with both headwinds and tailwinds facing this economy," said Burt White, managing director and chief investment officer at LPL Financial in Boston.
Following the release of the minutes, U.S. short-term interest-rate futures traders were still betting on a first Fed rate hike by September next year.
Tech names were among the biggest drags on the market, with the Nasdaq underperforming both the Dow and S&P 500. Shares of Microsoft (MSFT) fell 1.1 percent to $48.22 and shares of Qualcomm (QCOM) eased 2.1 percent to $70.47. Qualcomm on Wednesday gave a more conservative five-year outlook than in the past.
Among the S&P 500's biggest positives, Target (TGT) rose 7.4 percent to $72.50 and Lowe's (LOW) rose 6.4 percent to $62.26, both after results.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 2.09 points, or 0.01 percent, to 17,685.73, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) lost 3.08 points, or 0.15 percent, to 2,048.72 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 26.73 points, or 0.57 percent, to 4,675.71.
Earlier Wednesday, Goldman Sachs (GS) analysts said the Fed, once it begins to tighten monetary policy, would raise short-term interest rates faster and to higher levels than current market expectations.
Oplink Communications (OPLK) shares jumped 13.8 percent to $24.18. It is being purchased by Koch Optics, a subsidiary of privately held Koch Industries, for about $445 million.
Among other big movers, shares of JetBlue Airways (JBLU) rose 4.1 percent to $13.25 after it said it will charge certain customers for their first checked bag.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,899 to 1,176, for a 1.61-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,937 issues fell and 765 advanced for a 2.53-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
About 5.8 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 6.4 billion average for the month to date, according to data from BATS Global Markets.
The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 30 new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 42 new highs and 74 new lows.
-With additional reporting by Rodrigo Campo.
What to Watch Thursday:
The Labor Department releases its Consumer Price Index for October and weekly jobless claims, both at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
At 10 a.m.: The Conference Board releases leading indicators for October; the National Association of Realtors releases existing home sales for October; and Freddie Mac reports weekly mortgage rates.
Gap Inc. (GPS) reports quarterly financial results after U.S. markets close.
9 Weird, Easy, Fast Jobs That Will Help You Pay for College
Market Wrap: Stocks Edge Lower on Rate-Rise Worries
Sometimes making money is all about the timing. During my college years, I realized that if I bought toys during the year and sold them on eBay (EBAY)right before the holidays, I could make a profit.
While parents are always looking for deals on toys for their kids, they're also willing to spend a little more during the holidays, especially if you have one of the coveted toys, like the Snow Glow Elsa Doll. The key here is planning -- and being willing to store trinkets, dolls and games in your dorm room for a few months.
You can make a lot of money reselling textbooks if you have a good app. I earned up to $750 a month using the price comparison site BookScouter. Simply enter a book's ISBN, and BookScouter tells you how much the book is worth and which book buyback programs are likely to give you the most money.
It never hurts to visit garage sales to find used books and textbooks, but I also checked the listings on eBay. When I saw a textbook for sale, I'd look it up on BookScouter. If I could make a profit by buying it on eBay and reselling it to another bookseller, I'd snap it up.
I've written about this before for DailyFinance, so check out my full post on how I made up to $5,000 a month with beer auditing jobs.
Beer auditing is like mystery shopping. While you buy beer, you take notes on whether the employee at the counter follows the appropriate procedures. Did he ask for your ID? If you said your ID was in the car, did he let you buy beer anyway?
Beer auditing takes about 10 minutes per visit to complete. Not only do you get paid for your time, you also get reimbursed for the beer -- and they let you keep it. It's the perfect job for a college student.
If getting paid to buy beer sounds good, how about getting paid to watch movies? I worked as a movie premiere monitor, which means I earned money watching feature films when they premiered. The job simply required counting the number attending and noting which previews were shown before the movie.
Like beer auditing, movie premiere monitoring is a form of mystery shopping. Join a reputable mystery shopping firm, like those I mentioned in my beer-auditing post, and start taking on assignments. You might get paid to see the next Hollywood blockbuster.
One of the smartest ways I earned money to pay for college was by starting my website, The Penny Hoarder, to share unique and interesting ways to earn and save money. It still supports me today.
With a website, you can earn money from ad impressions, broker agreements with sponsors or partners or sales of information your readers care about.
Of course, you can't make any money from a website if nobody reads it. I developed a living wage because I did the most important thing of all: I gave readers posts they wanted to read. While the money-making options I suggested even back then were a bit unusual, I tested every one to check whether it was worthwhile before recommending it, which gave my site more credibility. I no longer write every post, but each money-maker is still field-tested before we cover it.
You can make up to $70 a week selling plasma, and even more if you take advantage of bonuses like referring a new member. Visit or call your nearest plasma donation center and ask about donation processes and rates. If it offers bonuses, talk to a few friends and figure out how to get the bonuses together. Be aware that plasma donation takes 90 minutes to two hours to complete, but you can also study or do schoolwork during that time, so it's a good use of your time.
Know how to sing? Are you a good hand on the drums? Have a few good magic tricks up your sleeve? It's time to put on an eye-catching costume, set out a hat and start busking.
Many cities have specific busking rules, so it isn't as simple as going outside and putting a hat on the ground. The Performers.net busking forum has a lot of information about busking in specific cities, but not all of the information is current.
Some of the most popular busking spots, for example, use lotteries to determine who gets to perform. To be a good busker, you need to give your audience a performance they'll enjoy and play fair with the other performers.
By working as a standardized patient, you help medical school students make diagnoses, question patients and improve bedside manners. Good acting skills are essential, since you have to both pretend to be sick and be convincing enough that a future doctor can make a proper diagnosis. Search online for such jobs. Then get ready to learn about disease symptoms so you can get into character.
Sometimes the quickest way to earn cash as a college student is to head over to the art department. By working as an art model, you help art students learn how to effectively portray human anatomy. You'll be able to get more work if you are willing to be a nude model, but art classes often accept clothed models as well.
Start by talking to someone at your college's art department; the departmental secretary is a good person to ask. You can also ask fellow students if they know which art classes use models. Don't forget you can go beyond your school -- if there are other universities or studios close to where you live, those might be options as well.