US markets closed mixed on Wednesday (22 February), with the Dow Jones managing to mark its ninth straight record close after the Federal Reserve minutes suggested a rate hike coming "fairly soon." The S&P 500 and Nasdaq, however, settled slightly lower.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 32.60 points, or 0.2%, to settle at 20,775.60 for its best record run since 1987. DuPont, whose shares rose following a Reuters article that reported EU antitrust regulators were set to clear its merger with Dow Chemical, and 3M contributed the most to gains on the blue-chips gauge.
The S&P 500 dropped 2.56 points, or 0.1%, to end at 2,362.82. The index was dragged down by the energy sector, which fell 1.59% to lead decliners, CNBC reported.
Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 5.32 points to finish at 5,860.63.
"Based on the initial move, the market was hoping for more dovish language," Mike Bailey, director of research at FBB Capital Partners told CNBC. "I think this is pretty hedged language. It gives [Fed Chair] Janet Yellen some breathing room. This could mean anything between March and June."
Bob Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth, told MarketWatch the rate hike could arrive sooner rather than later. "A rate increase in March is most likely on the table even though the minutes don't necessarily indicate that and it seems the Fed is prepping the market for it," Pavlik said.
The minutes of the Fed meeting earlier in February revealed many Federal Reserve officials indicated their support for raising rates if the economy continued to strengthen, MarketWatch noted. However, they also appeared to be uncertain about President Donald Trump's fiscal policy plans.
Treasury yields traded lower, with the benchmark 10-year yield near 2.41% and the short-term 2-year yield around 1.21%. According to CNBC, the Treasury Department auctioned $34bn in 5-year notes at a high yield of 1.937%.
The US dollar lost slight gains against a basket of currencies, with the euro trading near $1.057. The pound traded around $1.245.
In economic news, weekly mortgage applications dropped 2% for the week ending 17 February and existing home sales rose 3.3% in January.