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US stocks are little changed before Federal Reserve report

FILE - This Oct. 2, 2014 file photo shows the facade of the New York Stock Exchange, in New York. Stocks are opening mostly lower Wednesday, May 20, 2015, as traders look over some disappointing company results. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — US stocks are barely moving in afternoon trading Wednesday as investors weigh several earnings reports and await the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last policymaking meeting.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 31 points, or less than 0.2 percent, to 18,281 as of 1:40 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged down two points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,125. The Nasdaq composite fell less than a point to 5,069.

CRAFT CRASH: Etsy plunged 23 percent after its first earnings report as a publicly traded company showed a hefty quarterly loss. Stock in the e-commerce retailer of crafts plunged $4.89 to $16.13.

SUPPLY SLIP: Staples fell 14 cents, or 1 percent, to $16.27 after reporting a sharp drop in first-quarter earnings

LOWER LOWE’S: The home-improvement retailer Lowe’s sank 4.5 percent on earnings and revenue that fell short of what analysts were looking for. The stock fell $3.22 to $68.61.

STOCK SLOG: Though major indexes keep hitting highs, the movements are tiny day after day. “There’s no real reason to rally and no real reason to decline,” said Matthew Tuttle, CEO of money manager Tuttle Tactical Management. “It’s been really boring.”

PROFITS PICTURE: With most companies in the S&P 500 out with first- quarter results, earnings per share for companies in the index are now expected to have risen about 3 percent from a year ago, according to S&P Capital IQ, a data provider. That is better than the drop that had been predicted in early March, but still low by recent standards.

The weak start to the year has prompted financial analysts to slash forecasts for the full year. At the start of 2015, they were expecting a 7 percent jump in S&P 500 earnings for the year. Now they expect an increase of less than 1 percent.

FED MINUTES: The U.S. Federal Reserve is set to release minutes at 2 p.m. from its April 28-29 meeting, when it downgraded its view of the U.S. economy. Investors will study the minutes for clues as to when the Fed is likely raise short-term interest rates for first time since the global financial crisis.

EUROPEAN MARKETS: France’s CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent and Britain’s FTSE 100 was up 0.2 percent. Germany’s DAX was flat.

ASIA UP: Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.9 percent and South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.9 percent after robust U.S. housing data boosted the dollar and gave a lift to exporter stocks. China’s Shanghai Composite Index advanced 0.7 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng closed 0.4 percent lower.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 84 cents to $58.83 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract plunged $2.25 on Tuesday to close at $57.99.

CURRENCIES: The dollar strengthened to 121.33 yen from 120.67 yen. The euro declined to $1.1091 from $1.1147.

BONDS: The price of U.S. government bonds rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.25 percent from 2.30 percent late Tuesday.

METALS: Precious and industrial metals prices closed little changed. Gold rose $2 to $1,208.70 an ounce, silver rose four cents to $17.11 an ounce, and copper edged down less than a penny to $2.83 a pound.

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