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Earnings up next for markets with Fed believed to be still aiming for December

Stocks should start taking cues from earnings season now that Wednesday's Fed minutes are out of the way and reaffirm Wall Street's view that the central bank could raise rates at its December meeting.

There are just a few earnings reports Thursday with Delta Air Lines, First Republic Bank, Winnebago, Marriott Vacations and Unilever in the morning. But Friday brings on the releases from major banks — Citigroup, JPMorgan and Wells Fargo, and financial stocks have been rising ahead of those results. Earnings season gets into full swing next week when dozens of S&P 500 companies report.

"Earnings are especially important now because of the valuations in the market. Earnings are crucial. You can only go so long without growth," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial.

She said the market will also continue to watch the election, since it has begun to react negatively to any signs that Democrats could win over Congress. A feud between Republican Donald Trump and other Republicans triggered talk that if Clinton were to win big, the Democrats could take back the House. That raises concerns that Congress would have a consensus to enact more market-unfriendly regulations and fewer market-friendly spending and tax policies.

"The election is filtering into the market, and you're seeing it more and more," she said.

The broader market indexes meandered Wednesday and had little reaction after the Fed minutes release at 2 p.m.

The S&P 500 closed up less than 3 points at 2,139.18. The best-performing sectors were real estate and utilities, ironically high-yielding groups that benefit from lower interest rates. Treasury yields slipped slightly after the minutes. The 10-year was at 1.77 percent, after trading as high as 1.80 percent early in the day.

"Surely with all the hype about the minutes coming out, I think we're back to where we were all along, with the debate in the Fed. The market never thought November was in the offing. It's clearly about December," Krosby said.

Krosby said utilities have been very oversold. "I think the utilities is a contrarian bet that a rate hike is already discounted in the market, that the market knows the rate hike is coming and the utilities have been sold off," she said.

She said banks and utilities do not usually go up in tandem as they did Wednesday. It made sense that banks were on the move since they are more likely to benefit from rising interest rates. Yields have been moving higher in the Treasury market this week, with the 10-year breaking back to the levels it was at in early June, before the U.K. Brexit vote to leave the European Union.

The Fed minutes showed the Fed was close to hiking rates and included comments from Fed officials who had dissented against the decision in September to keep rates steady.

"It's just telling us that they were indeed very close to pulling the trigger and resuming their gradual pace of rate hikes," said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank. "They just didn't do it. It looks like the doves won out. But all this talk of it being a close call suggest to me that [Fed Chair Janet] Yellen more or less bought off the hawks by saying we didn't go today, but we'll go later this year."

There are a few economic reports Thursday including the jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. EDT, import prices at 8:30 a.m. and the federal budget at 2 p.m.