Both the Dow and S&P 500 closed in the red on Wednesday, while the Nasdaq finished an all time high. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) minutes released on Wednesday indicated that a rate hike is almost certain in December, but stated that only one or two rate hikes were likely in 2018. Prospects of a slower pace of rate hikes next year weighed on investor sentiment. Meanwhile, gains in telecom and energy stocks had a positive impact on markets. U.S. markets were closed on Thursday following Thanksgiving holiday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) decreased 0.3%, to close at 23,526.18. The S&P 500 Index (INX) fell 0.1% to close at 2,597.08. However, the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index (IXIC) closed at 6,867.36, gaining 0.1%. A total of 5.18 billion shares were traded on Wednesday, lower than the last 20-session average of 6.66 billion shares. Advancers outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by a 1.30-to-1 ratio. On Nasdaq, a 1.09-to-1 ratio favored advancing issues. The CBOE VIX increased 1.5% to close at 9.88.

Fed Minutes Hints at Softer Rate Hike Pace, HP CEO to Step Down

In the minutes of Oct. 31 – Nov. 1 FOMC policy meeting, Fed officials ascertained a December rate hike. However, some policymakers showed concerns over “persistent” slowdown in inflation and hinted that the central bank may scale back to one or at two rate increases next year, which was lower than the previously expected three rate hikes. Moderate pace of future tightening weighed on investor sentiment, which in turn pulled majority indexes downward.

Additionally, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company’s HPE shares fell 7.2% after the company reported a weak fiscal first quarter earnings outlook. Also, the company’s CEO Meg Whitman announced that she will step down in February, which also weighed on the Hewlett Packard’s share performance. Hewlett Packard was the worst performing stock among the S&P 500 companies on Wednesday. The company has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Net Neutrality Rollback in Sight, Oil Prices Rise

Meanwhile, telecom stocks rallied on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 Telecom Services Sector rising 1.7%, after Ajit Pai, the Commissioner of Federal Communications Commission (FCC), revealed a draft plan for a complete roll back of Net Neutrality. Expectations of dismantling of Net Neutrality benefitted telecom companies like Verizon Communications Inc. VZ and AT&T Inc. T, which rose 2% and 1.6%, respectively. (Read More)

Additionally, oil prices increased on Wednesday after the Keystone pipeline was shutdown following an oil leak last week. Also, U.S. crude inventories fell by 1.9 million barrels at 457.1 million barrels for the week ended week ended Nov 17. Fall in oil supply following the leakage and decline in domestic crude inventories led the WTI crude to rise by 2.1% to $58.02 per barrel and Brent crude to increase by 1.2% to $63.32 a barrel. Increase in oil prices led the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) to advance 0.4%.

Further, the tech-based index Nasdaq reached a new all-time on Wednesday following gains in, Inc. AMZN. Shares of Amazon rose 1.5% following reports that the cloud services provider is gearing up for a partnership with Cerner Corporation CERN to enter the healthcare industry.

Stocks That Made Headlines

Stone Energy Board Okays Merger Deal With Talos Energy

Stone Energy Corporation SGY recently received approval from its boards of directors to merge with Talos Energy LLC. (Read More)

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Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company (HPE): Free Stock Analysis Report, Inc. (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report
Cerner Corporation (CERN): Free Stock Analysis Report
AT&T Inc. (T): Free Stock Analysis Report
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Stone Energy Corporation (SGY): Free Stock Analysis Report
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