US STOCKS-S&P closes slightly higher after Fed minutes feed stable rate view


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    * Prison operator GEO tumbles on dividend suspension
    * "Some time" before substantial progress seen on goals -
    * Growth stocks outperform value

 (Updates to market close)
    By Chuck Mikolajczak
    NEW YORK, April 7 (Reuters) - Major averages hovered near
unchanged on Wednesday, with the S&P closing up slightly after
the Federal Reserve released minutes from its most recent
meeting that reinforced the U.S. central bank's position to
remain patient before raising rates.
    The major indexes held near unchanged for most of the day
but the S&P 500 briefly climbed to a session high after the
minutes, in which Fed officials said it would likely take "some
time" for substantial further progress on goals of maximum
employment and stable prices.*:nW1N2L301E
    But the gains were minor and short-lived, as many market
participants question the ability to hold off on a rate hike for
as long as the Fed has stated. 
    "We thought we were going to get something new from the
minutes of the Fed meeting, we were oddly mistaken on that one,"
said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities
in New York. 
    "The Fed has been more transparent all of this year about
where they stand and they really are not budging from that
    The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note
 10USYT=RR  moved higher late in the session. Still, it remained
below a 14-month high of 1.776% hit on March 30. The recent
pullback in yields has helped growth names and lifted technology
 .SPLRCT  and communication services  .SPLRCL  stocks on the
    Unofficially, the Dow Jones Industrial Average  .DJI  rose
17.57 points, or 0.05%, to 33,447.81, the S&P 500  .SPX  gained
6.12 points, or 0.15%, to 4,080.06 and the Nasdaq Composite
 .IXIC  dropped 9.60 points, or 0.07%, to 13,688.78.
    Value stocks, which include economically sensitive sectors
such as materials  .SPLRCM  and industrials  .SPLRCI , maintain
a strong lead this year over their growth counterparts,
dominantly tech-related firms. 
    However, a resurgence in demand for tech stocks in recent
sessions amid renewed restrictions in Canada and parts of Europe
has raised questions over the longevity of the value trade.
    Growth stocks  .RLG  outperformed value shares  .RLV  during
the session.
    The upcoming earnings season and progress in a
multitrillion-dollar infrastructure proposal could decide Wall
Street's path forward.
    Analysts have raised expectations for first-quarter S&P 500
earnings increase to 24.2%, according to Refinitiv IBES data as
of April 1, versus 21% forecast on Feb. 5.
    But the sharp run up in earnings expectations could leave
the market primed for disappointment.*:nL1N2LU2OI
    JPMorgan Chase & Co  JPM.N  Chief Executive Officer Jamie
Dimon said the United States could be in store for an economic
boom through 2023 if more adults get vaccinated and federal
spending continues.*:nL1N2M003R    
    Prison operator GEO Group  GEO.N  fell sharply after
suspending quarterly dividend payments.*:nL4N2M02TY

1-year spread between growth and value stocks
 (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by David Gregorio)
 ((; @ChuckMik; Reuters Messaging:

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