Major U.S. stock indexes slipped for a second day Wednesday as investors digested the latest Federal Reserve meeting minutes for insights into tapering plans.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 382.59 points points, or about 1.1%, to 34,960.69. The S&P 500 dipped nearly 1.1% to 4,400.27. The two averages both snapped five-day winning streaks in the prior session. The Nasdaq Composite edged roughly 0.9% lower to 14,525.91.
The Fed published its meeting minutes from its July gathering, revealing discussions about possibly dialing back its monthly bond-buying program this year.
"Looking ahead, most participants noted that, provided that the economy were to evolve broadly as they anticipated, they judged that it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year," the minutes said.
The minutes noted the economy had reached its goal on inflation and was "close to being satisfied" with the progress of job growth.
To be sure, the minutes also reflected some division within the Fed with some members preferring to wait until early 2022 to start tapering bond purchases.
Since that July meeting, there's been growing support within the central bank to announce a tapering in September and begin it in October.
"There's just this uncertainty as we hand off fiscal and monetary policy to the economy to run on its own," Rockland Trust's Rachael Aiken told CNBC's "Power Lunch." "I think the market is going to continue to feel volatility around that."
Elsewhere, housing starts fell 7% in July to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.534 million units, well below economists' expectations.
Investors also waded through more earnings reports from major retailers Wednesday.
Lowe's shares popped 9.5% after the home improvement company's earnings last quarter topped expectations, with higher sales to home professionals.
Shares of T.J. Maxx-parent TJX also gained nearly 5.6% after a better-than-expected quarterly earnings report.
Target shares pulled back about 2.8% despite the retailer beating on second-quarter earnings. The company's profit and revenue topped expectations, and the company raised its forecast for the second half of the year, citing a good start to back-to-school spending.
"In the short run, the market is going to remain focused on growth and delta variant concerns, but as we move past those challenges, the good news about the economy and job market should give investors a renewed boost of confidence and that is what will drive the market to new highs before the end of the year," Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance, said.