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Overnight Markets: S&P 500 nears record after Fed minutes reassure on rates

Overnight Markets: S&P 500 nears record after Fed minutes reassure on rates

US stocks closed mostly higher on Wednesday, sending the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index to within two points of a record, after minutes from the Federal Reserve's July meeting indicated the US central bank will continue to support the economy amid uneven gains in the labour market.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 60 points, or 0.35%, to end at 16,979. The S&P 500 gained five points, or 0.25%, to finish at 1,987. The Nasdaq Composite dipped one point to close at 4,526.

The minutes were from the two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee in late July, when the Fed trimmed its monthly bond-buying programme by an additional $10 billion.

With the minutes out, investors have turned their attention to the annual meeting of top central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which will take place from Thursday through Saturday.

During the regular session, Home Depot was the Dow's biggest percentage gainer. Shares of the world's largest home improvement retailer rose 2.9% to a record closing high of $90.75 a day after Home Depot's earnings beat Wall Street's expectations.

Lowe's Cos Inc, a rival of Home Depot, rebounded. The stock gained 1.6% after the home improvement products retailer reported better-than-expected quarterly results but cut its full-year forecast.

After the bell, Hewlett-Packard Co shares fell 0.7% following the computing company's results. Hewlett-Packard reported an increase in quarterly revenue, surprising analysts.

Shares of Target Corp rose 1.8%, shaking off initial declines after the US discount retailer's second-quarter earnings fell shy of analysts' estimates. The company cut its full-year outlook.

American Eagle Outfitters jumped 12% after the teen-oriented chain's second-quarter results beat expectations and forecasts for third-quarter earnings were in line with the current estimate.

In Asia, most stocks gained on Thursday in morning trade after the US Fed signalled in minutes from its July meeting that it will continue to support the world’s largest economy even as it ends its bond-buying stimulus.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed at 149 as of 9:35 a.m. in Hong Kong. Japan’s Topix index advanced 0.9% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.7%.

New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.5% and Singapore’s Straits Times Index climbed 0.3%. South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.9% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index lost 0.3%. Taiwan’s Taiex Index retreated 0.4%.

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