US stocks : Dow down 0.13 pct
Despite the concerns about the effects of its asset purchases, the Fed look set to continue its open-ended stimulus program for now.
The minutes from the December meeting showed a growing reticence about further increases in the central bank's $2.9 trillion balance sheet, which it expanded sharply in response to the financial crisis and recession of 2007-2009.
Stocks had pushed the benchmark S&P 500 index 4.3 percent higher during a two-day run as investors turned their focus to upcoming battles in Congress, including likelihood of bitter fights over spending cuts and raising the federal debt ceiling.
"As we look down the pathway here, there are some real issues in front of the market. There is going to be a new battle in two months over the debt ceiling and sequestration and fourth-quarter earnings are going to start to come into focus," said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco.
"There are some issues out there that could hold this market back, but on the other side of the ledger, zero interest rates are a tremendous stock market flotation device."
The rally in equities began on the last day of 2012 on optimism a deal would be reached to avert the "fiscal cliff," and avoid a possible recession. Gains continued on Wednesday, the first trading day of 2013, with Wall Street's best performance since Dec. 20, 2011 after
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