Stocks End Slightly Lower As Fed Hints At September Rate Hike

By Joseph AdinolfiMarketsMarketWatch Pulse

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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