NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are little changed Wednesday afternoon with utility companies rising and consumer companies falling after weak results from retailers like Target and Lowe's. The Federal Reserve said it could raise interest rates soon, but investors appeared to feel that the move won't happen too quickly.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average added 5 points to 18,557 as of 2:35 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 1 point to 2,179. The Nasdaq composite lost 3 points to 5,224.
WAITING FOR MINUTES: The Federal Reserve released the minutes from its late July meeting. Officials at the central bank felt near-term risks to the U.S. economy have diminished as job growth recovered and said another boost in interest rates might be warranted soon. But the Fed doesn't appear to be in a hurry to raise those rates. Utility companies made the biggest gain in afternoon trading, as low interest rates make their big dividend payments more appealing. The stocks were down earlier in the day. Phone companies and household goods makers also reversed course and traded higher.
Bond prices turned higher and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.55 percent from 1.58 percent. The dollar weakened, falling to 100.13 yen from 100.25 yen. The euro rose to $1.1299 from $1.1277. In recent days the Fed's decision to leave rates unchanged has weakened the dollar, helping exporters.
HOW LOWE CAN IT GO: Home improvement retailer Lowe's cut its annual profit forecast after it reported mixed quarterly results including lower-than-expected earnings and weak sales at older stores. Its stock $4.77, or 5.9 percent, to $76.71.
OFF TARGET: Retailer Target skidded after it cut its annual profit forecast and lowered its estimates for sales at older stores. Target is facing stiff competition and analysts say it's had trouble with grocery sales. The stock fell $4.48, or 5.9 percent, to $71.
FLIP THE SWITCH: Utilities made some of the biggest gains. Dominion Resources rose $1.66, or 2.2 percent, to $76.34 and Xcel Energy gained 54 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $42.18.
NO DOUBT-FITTERS: Urban Outfitters jumped after it disclosed solid second-quarter results. Sales at older stores improved, surprising analysts who expected a decline. The stock gained $4.90, or 15.7 percent, to $36.14.
SKIP TO THE END: Barnes & Noble tumbled after the book seller said CEO Ronald Boire is leaving after less than a year in the job. The company said its board determined that Boire was not a good fit. Chairman and former CEO Leonard Riggio, who was scheduled to retire next month, will stay with the company as it seeks a new CEO.
Barnes & Noble has been cutting costs and closing stores as it copes with people doing more of their shopping online and at discount stores. Its stock sank $1.62, or 12.1 percent, to $11.76.
TURNING OUT THE LIGHTS: Lighting maker Cree forecast disappointing earnings for the current quarter, and its sales estimate was far weaker than analysts expected. Cree shares slumped $3.95, or 14.4 percent, to $23.53.
THAT WASN'T EASY: Staples' quarterly results were about equal to Wall Street projections, but analysts weren't impressed with its forecast of further sales declines. Its stock fell 69 cents, or 7.4 percent, to $8.64. Rival Office Depot lost 24 cents, or 6.2 percent, to $3.55.
OIL: The Energy Information Administration said U.S. crude oil inventories shrank by 2.5 million barrels last week and gas stockpiles decreased by 2.7 million barrels. The declines were larger than expected, which is generally good for oil prices. Benchmark U.S. crude added 21 cents to $46.79 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, inched up 63 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $49.86 a barrel in London.
METALS: The price of gold fell $8.10 to $1,348.80 an ounce. Silver fell 23 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $19.65 an ounce. Copper gave up 2 cents to $2.15 a pound.
HONG KONG STOCK LINK: China's Cabinet approved an initiative that would give foreign investors more access to Chinese stocks by linking exchanges in Hong Kong and the mainland city of Shenzhen. Hong Kong is Chinese territory but its financial system is open to foreign investors while mainland markets are sealed off. A similar measure to link Hong Kong with the Shanghai stock exchange took effect in 2014.
OVERSEAS: France's CAC-40 dropped 1 percent while Germany's DAX shed 1.3 percent. London's FTSE 100 declined 0.5 percent. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong was off 0.5 percent and in Tokyo the Nikkei 225 gained 0.9 percent. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.9 percent.