US stocks slip lower after four days of gains

The major US stock indices have traded within a narrow range so far today, with caution taking the upper hand while investors wait to see if the minutes from the FOMC’s June policy meeting hold any surprises.

Ever since the lag between each FOMC meeting and the release of the relevant minutes was reduced from six weeks to three weeks, the minutes have tended to have more of an effect on market movements.

Traders will be looking to see whether the minutes contain any further clues about the possibility of tapering of the Fed’s stimulus or details as to how the discussion between Fed officials went regarding this matter, particularly any mention of specific time-frames.

The Dow was off just 0.18% at 15,272 an hour ahead of the release of the minutes (scheduled for 7pm BST), while the S&P 500 was down by 0.14% at 1650.0. After four days of substantial gains, this is not a significant movement, simply the market taking a breather ahead of potentially important news.

The US Commerce Department earlier revealed that wholesale inventories shrank by 0.9% in May, the biggest decline seen in 20 months, with rising sales of 1.6% contributing to the drop in stocks. Analysts had been expecting a rise in inventories.

The reduction in inventories across a broad selection of sectors combined with the jump in sales, equates to a stock-to-sales ratio of just 1.18, the lowest seen since April 2012, which suggests re-stocking will follow and this should have a positive effect on the economy.

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