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Stock Market Today: U.S. Stocks Advance Ahead of Fed Minutes; Alcoa Rises

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. benchmark stock indices rose Wednesday after aluminum giant Alcoa (AA) kicked off the second-quarter earnings season with better-than-expected results. The markets were also awaiting the minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting.

Alcoa was advancing 2.96% after posting second-quarter earnings that topped analysts' estimates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was edging 0.18% higher to 16,936.81. The S&P 500 was inching up 0.23% to 1,968.16. The Nasdaq was rising 0.37% to 4,407.66.

WATCH: More market update videos on TheStreet TV

Minutes from the Federal Open Market Committee's June 17 to June 18 meeting will be issued at 2 p.m. EDT. Market participants will be parsing the minutes for any discussion of policy exit strategies and potentially, approaches at improving communication to the markets.

Eric Green, head of U.S. rates and economic research at TD Securities, urged investors not to get caught up in the speculation that a rate hike will take place as soon as in the first half of 2015.

"The Fed cannot afford to get this exit strategy wrong," Green noted.

July 9 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know

European Stocks Slide Ahead of Fed Minutes

Stock Market Today: Dow Slips Below 17,000 Mark With Little to Re-Energize Rally

European stock indices were mixed as investors hoped that minutes of the last Fed rate-setting meeting will ease recent nervousness.

Other companies in focus Wednesday include Apple (AAPL), AbbVie (ABBV), Shire (SHPG) and Reynolds American (RAI - Get Report).

Reynolds American was gaining nearly 3% after The Daily Mail reported that British American Tobacco will reportedly buy the 58% stake of Reynolds that it doesn't already own.

A Beijing court ruled against Apple by upholding the validity of a patent held by a Chinese company, clearing the way for the Chinese company to continue its own case against Apple for infringing intellectual property rights, Reuters reported. Apple shares were incrementally higher. AbbVie on Tuesday made its fourth offer for Irish drugmaker Shire, this time raising the bid by 11% to about 30.1 billion pounds ($51.5 billion). Shire shares were trading sideways and AbbVie was down by 1.33%.

The Dow tumbled below the 17,000 psychological threshold Tuesday with little market-moving news to sustain the rally that swept benchmark indices to record highs last week.

-- By Andrea Tse in New York

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