MARKET SNAPSHOT: Stock Market Fights To Scale New Heights With Fed Minutes, Earnings Ahead

By Mark DeCambre and Victor Reklaitis, MarketWatch Features Dow Jones Newswires

Japanese stocks close at 2-decade high; Spanish stocks rally as Catalonia worries abate somewhat

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U.S. stock benchmarks on Wednesday traded little changed, with the Dow industrials hovering around record territory, as investors await the release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's September meeting, along with a ramp up for third-quarter corporate earnings season.

What are stocks doing?

(http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stocks-on-track-to-resume-their-record-busting-rise-2017-10-09)Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 7 points, or less than 0.1%, to 22,837, supported by gains in shares of McDonald's Corp. (MCD) and Johnson & Johnson(JNJ), the shares of both components up more than 1%.

Meanwhile, S&P 500 index inched down by less than a point to 2,550, while the Nasdaq Composite Index also traded flat at 6,590.

Read:Investors face 'extreme mental exhaustion' in markets where nothing is 'normal' (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/investors-face-extreme-mental-exhaustion-due-to-high-valuations-low-volatility-2017-10-10)

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On Tuesday, the blue-chip Dow rose 0.3% to end at an all-time closing high of 22,830.68 (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-stock-futures-inch-higher-as-investors-count-down-to-earnings-season-2017-10-10). The S&P 500 added 0.2%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq tacked on 0.1%, as those two gauges finished just below their record closes last week.

The Dow has gained nearly 16% for the year, the S&P is up 14%, and the Nasdaq has risen 22%.

What are strategists saying?

The release of the Fed minutes is "today's key event, with traders looking for further insight into the Fed's interest-rate plans," said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at Oanda, in a note.

"With third-quarter earnings season getting under way--including results from Delta and BlackRock today and J.P. Morgan and Citigroup tomorrow--there should be no shortage of news flow," he said.

What could move the markets?

The Fed minutes are scheduled to arrive at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said one more rate-increase before the end of 2017 isn't set in stone, during a speech in Zurich. Wall Street is pricing in a more than 90% chance of a rate increase by the end of the year according to CME Group data.

Later Wednesday, San Francisco Fed President John Williams will give a speech in Salt Lake City, Utah at 2:40 p.m. Eastern, and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic will discuss balance-sheet normalization in Hong Kong at 8 p.m. Eastern.

. A report on U.S. job openings showed a fall to 6.08 million in August from 6.14 million.

Check out:MarketWatch's Economic Calendar (http://www.marketwatch.com/economy-politics/calendars/economic)

See:Investors face 'extreme mental exhaustion' in markets where nothing is 'normal' (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/investors-face-extreme-mental-exhaustion-due-to-high-valuations-low-volatility-2017-10-10)

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares in BlackRock Inc.(BLK) rose 0.4% after the investment manager posted better-than-expected quarterly results (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/blackrocks-stock-rallies-after-profit-and-revenue-rise-above-expectations-2017-10-11).

Delta Air Lines Inc.'s stock (DAL) also gained 0.7% after the air carrier's results topped forecasts (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/delta-air-shares-surge-25-after-earnings-beat-estimates-2017-10-11).

Read more:Third-quarter earnings seen as 'an easy beat,' could set up more stock market records (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/third-quarter-earnings-seen-as-an-easy-beat-could-set-up-more-stock-market-records-2017-10-09)

Micron Technology Inc.'s stock (MU) fell 1.5% after the memory-chip company late Tuesday said it would sell about $1 billion (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/micron-to-sell-1-billion-in-fresh-shares-amid-memory-price-spike-stock-dips-2017-10-10) in new shares.

Barracuda Networks Inc.(CUDA) shares were down more than 10% after the cloud-computing company late Tuesday matched estimates for earnings (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/barracuda-shares-slump-even-as-revenue-billing-top-street-view-2017-10-10) and topped those for revenue and billings.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. shares (BABA) rose 0.4% after the Chinese e-commerce giant said it would nearly triple spending on cutting-edge research (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/alibaba-to-triple-investment-in-cutting-edge-research-to-15-billion-2017-10-11), as it tries to keep pace with Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) and Alphabet Inc.(GOOGL).

What are other assets doing?

European stocks were mixed, with Spain's IBEX gauge rallying as worries eased a bit about Catalonia's push for independence (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/spanish-stocks-rally-as-worries-over-catalan-independence-ease-2017-10-11). Catalan President Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday suspended the independence process (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/catalan-president-opts-for-spanish-dialogue-call-over-outright-independence-declaration-2017-10-10) for the region, but Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Wednesday fanned the flames in the conflict, suggesting he's edging toward suspending Catalonia's autonomy (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dollar-slips-for-fourth-day-with-fed-minutes-in-focus-2017-10-11).

Asian markets closed with gains (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/asian-markets-flirt-with-milestones-as-monthlong-rally-continues-2017-10-10) as Japan's Nikkei benchmark scored its highest close in more than two decades (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/japans-nikkei-closes-at-highest-level-in-20-years-2017-10-11).

Oil futures advanced, while gold futures and a key dollar index pulled back.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 11, 2017 10:19 ET (14:19 GMT)