Fed minutes signal officials ready to raise rates again soon

The minutes showed policymakers agreed they should hold off on raising interest rates until it was clear a recent US economic slowdown was temporary, although most said a hike was coming soon.

"Our U.S. economists expect the minutes to come down on the hawkish side and continue to expect the Fed to hike in June and September and announce balance sheet reduction in December", Citi analysts wrote on Wednesday.

Lowe's dropped 3 percent after the home improvement chain reported a lower-than-expected profit and comparable sales.

The dollar was little changed at 111.635 yen JPY= , pushed away from a one-week high of 112.130 scaled the previous day.

WALL STREET GAINS: U.S. stocks rose for the fifth consecutive day Wednesday, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 0.2 percent to close at a record high 2,404.39.

Best Buy BBY.O surged as much as 17 percent to a record high of $58.99, making it the top gainer on the S&P, as its comparable sales unexpectedly rose last quarter.

In discussing why the Fed thought it was appropriate to hold off on raising rates at its meeting early this month, the minutes said "members generally judged that it would be prudent to await additional evidence indicating that the recent slowdown in the pace of economic activity had been transitory before taking another step" to raise rates.

Other retailers including Abercrombie & Fitch and Burlington Stores also made substantial gains and online retailer Amazon approached $1,000 a share for the first time. The Nasdaq composite rose 22 points, or 0.4 percent, to 6,160. Its stock gained $8.76, or 7 percent, to $138.16.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 0.06 per cent and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.08 per cent.

"The big news obviously today was the release of the Fed minutes and the market basically liked what the Fed and its head Janet Yellen said", Bill Lynch of Hinsdale Associates said. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks added 1 point, or 0.1 percent, to 1,382. The benchmark 10-year yield US10YT=RR was down 1.6 basis point on Thursday at 2.25 percent. Hormel's stock gave up $1.71, or 4.8 per cent, to $33.69. Benchmark U.S. crude lost 20 cents to $51.16 a barrel in NY and Brent crude, the worldwide standard, fell 14 cents to $53.82 a barrel in London.

The Canadian dollar strengthened to a five-week high of C$1.3405 per US dollar after the Bank of Canada was more upbeat about the economy than some investors had expected.

US gold futures were up 0.3 percent at $1,256.8 an ounce. On the other hand, Asian automakers Toyota fell by 0.27 percent and Honda also trailing by 1.28% today, while the Indonesian market was closed for the holiday. The Aussie fell to $0.7443 on Wednesday after rating agency Moody's downgraded China, but it managed to bounce back as the dollar sagged broadly.

The euro was up less than 0.1 percent at $1.1192 EUR=EBS, having scaled a 6-1/2-month high of $1.1268 on Tuesday.

  • Zachary Reyes