Stocks post modest gain as Fed signals economic growth worries

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Signs of a potential US recession ahead?

BubbaTrading.com’s Todd Horwitz and Flynn Zito Capital Management co-founder Doug Flynn on the Federal Reserve, earnings season and the outlook for the U.S. economy.

Stocks closed slightly higher Wednesday after Federal Reserve officials said they would soon announce a halt in reducing their $4 trillion portfolio of bonds and other assets as the global economy's outlook becomes more uncertain.

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Fed officials also disclosed that members of the bank's powerful interest rate-setting committee agreed to hold interest rates steady for the same reason.

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All three major equity averages closed fractionally higher, sliding somewhat from session highs after the central bank's minutes were revealed.

"Almost all participants thought that it would be desirable to announce before too long a plan to stop reducing the Federal Reserve's asset holdings later this year," minutes of the central bank's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) said.

Fed officials said in their minutes that they supported a “patient” approach to monetary policy, prompted by concerns about the potential effects of geopolitical turmoil on the global economy, according to their minutes.

TickerSecurityLastChange%Chg
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES25502.32-460.19-1.77%
SP500S&P 5002800.71-54.17-1.90%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX7642.666882-196.29-2.50%

Minutes from the Jan. 29-30 meeting of the policy setting FOMC revealed that committee members voted to maintain the target range for the benchmark federal funds rate at 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent, while continuing to signal a dovish and patient approach to further policy moves in the year ahead.

Meanwhile, trade negotiations continued between the U.S. and China.

President Trump said on Tuesday that talks with China were going well and suggested he was open to pushing off the deadline to complete negotiations, saying Mar. 1 was not a "magical" date.

TickerSecurityLastChange%Chg
CVSCVS HEALTH CORPORATION56.04-1.36-2.37%

CVS Health Corp. shares fell after revenue of  $54.42 billion was short of expectations and the company’s adjusted earnings per share for fiscal 2019 is under Wall Street expectations.

In Europe, the major markets closed with gains. London’s FTSE was up 0.7 percent, Germany’s DAX added 0.8 percent and France’s CAC rose 0.7 percent.

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In Asian markets, China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.2 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1 percent and Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.6  percent to a nine-week high.

FOX Business' Ken Martin contributed to this report.