US Stocks Gain Ground Ahead of Thanksgiving

NEW YORK (AP) -- Stocks rose in morning trading on Wall Street Wednesday as traders look ahead to the release of minutes later in the day from the Federal Reserve's latest policy meeting.

The S&P 500 rose 0.5% as of 10:14 a.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 103 points, or 0.3%, to 34,201 and the Nasdaq rose 0.8%.

Technology stocks and some big retailers led the gains. Chipmaker Nvidia rose 2.5% and Target rose 3%.

Farming equipment maker Deere gained 7.3% after reporting stronger financial results than analysts were expecting.

Crude oil prices fell 3.8% and weighed down energy stocks. Hess fell 2%.

Long-term Treasury yields fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences mortgage rates, slipped to 3.72% from 3.76%.

European markets were mostly higher and Asian markets closed mixed overnight.

Trading has been unsteady during the holiday-shortened week, but major indexes are on track for weekly gains. U.S. markets will be closed Thursday for Thanksgiving and will close early on Friday.

Inflation remains the biggest concern for many investors and the Fed's latest policy meeting minutes could provide more insight into the central bank's thinking behind its aggressive interest increases. The central bank's benchmark rate currently stands at 3.75% to 4%, up from close to zero in March. It has warned that it may have to ultimately raise rates to previously unanticipated levels to cool the hottest inflation in decades.

Wall Street has been closely watching the latest economic and inflation data for any signs that might allow the Fed to ease up on future rate increases. Investors are worried that the Fed could slam the brakes too hard on economic growth and bring on a recession.

Consumer spending and the employment market have so far remained strong points in the economy. That has helped as a bulwark against a recession, but also means the Fed may have to remain aggressive.

The number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose last week to the highest level since August, but the figure still remains low by historic standards. A November survey from the University of Michigan shows that consumer sentiment grew from October by more than economists had expected.