U.S. stocks ended slightly lower Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said improving economic conditions could justify an interest-rate hike as soon as September. The S&P 500 shed 3 points, or 0.1% to 2,166, as declines in utilities and consumer-staples shares weighed on the index. The Dow industrials finished flat at 18,472, despite a strong performance by Apple Inc. , which reported stronger-than-expected quarterly earnings late Tuesday. The Nasdaq Composite gained 30 points, or 0.6%, to 5,139. Economic data released Wednesday seemed to contradict the Fed's sanguine outlook. Durable-goods orders sank in June at the fastest clip in nearly two years.
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