Release of Fed meeting minutes changes stocks very little

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NEW YORK -- The stock market turned quiet Wednesday and just managed to notch a fifth straight day of gains. Even the release of minutes from the latest meeting of the Federal Reserve didn't jolt stocks.

Two major U.S. stock indexes were barely changed. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose a fraction of a point to 1,652.62. The Dow Jones industrial average eased 8.68 points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,291.66.

Every move the Fed has made in recent months has been analyzed. Wednesday's minutes from the June policy meeting were no exception. But the minutes offered no surprises.

"I don't think the minutes offered anything that would change [my] view of the market's direction or the Fed's intentions," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist for Prudential Annuities.

The small gain in the S&P 500 kept alive its winning streak. The index has now risen five days, its best streak in two months.

In another sign of confidence, small-company stocks continued their surge. The Russell 2000, which represents 2,000 publicly traded companies with small market valuations, rose 2.4 points, or 0.2 percent, to a record 1,020.42.

The Nasdaq, meanwhile, is at its highest level since October 2000.

Investors are watching earnings results for the second quarter, which ended 10 days ago. Analysts expect earnings growth to average 2.8 percent for companies in the S&P 500, according to data from S&P Capital IQ.

The expected growth isn't spectacular and that makes it more likely that companies could beat analysts' estimates, said Eric Wiegand, senior portfolio manager at U.S. Bank Wealth Management. "We have very low expectations."

Family Dollar Stores was a case in point. The discount retailer said Wednesday that its quarterly earnings fell 3 percent. But the earnings topped analysts' estimates, and the stock surged $4.55, or 7.1 percent, to $68.50, making it the biggest gainer in the S&P 500.

Dollar General was the second-biggest gainer in the index, rising $2.98, or 5.75 percent, to $54.78.

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