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US markets end higher after Fed minutes reiterate central bank's dovish stance

The US markets ended higher on Wednesday after the minutes of the Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting suggested the outlook for interest rates remains fluid. The minutes said a majority of meeting participants expected that the evolution of the economic outlook and risks to the outlook would likely warrant leaving rates unchanged for the remainder of the year. Several of these participants saw the current target range for rates of 2.25 to 2.50 percent as close to their estimates of its longer-run neutral level. However, the minutes noted participants continued to emphasize that future rate decisions would depend on their ongoing assessments of the economic outlook and potential risks. The minutes also said several participants noted that their views of the appropriate target range for the federal funds rate could shift in either direction based on incoming data and other development.

On the economic front, reflecting a spike in energy prices, the Labor Department released a report showing consumer prices in the US increased by slightly more than anticipated in the month of March. The Labor Department said its consumer price index climbed by 0.4% in March after edging up by 0.2% in February. Street had expected the index to rise by 0.3%. Consumer prices showed their biggest monthly increase in over a year, as energy prices soared by 3.5% in March after rising by 0.4% in February. Gasoline prices led the way higher, skyrocketing by 6.5%. Excluding the jump in energy prices and a modest increase in food prices, core consumer prices inched up by 0.1% in February, matching the uptick seen in the previous month. Core prices had been expected to tick up by 0.2%. Increases in prices for shelter, medical care, new vehicles, recreation, education, and tobacco were partly offset by lower prices for apparel, used cars and trucks, and airline fares.

Dow Jones Industrial Average added 6.58 points or 0.03 percent to 26157.16, Nasdaq surged 54.97 points or 0.69 percent to 7964.24 and S&P 500 was up by 10.01 points or 0.35 percent to 2888.21.

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