Here Are 3 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended slightly higher after the release of the Fed's March meeting minutes.
  • Delta Air Lines (DAL - Get Report) beat Wall Street's first-quarter earnings expectations. The stock rose 1.6%.
  • Apple (AAPL - Get Report)  ended up after the tech giant received another downgrade from analysts at HSBC.

Wall Street Overview

Stocks ended up Wednesday after the release of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee's minutes from its March meeting showed that as a whole, the committee doesn't expect rates to rise this year.
 
The Dow Jones Industrial Average wavered most of the day before ending up 7 points, or 0.03%, to 26,157, the S&P 500 rose 0.35%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.69%.
  
The Federal Open Market Committee released minutes Wednesday from its meeting March 19-20, electing not to raise interest rates at the meeting and indicating that it didn't see a likelihood for any hikes through 2019.
 
However, "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 developments," the summary said. "Some participants indicated that if the economy evolved as they currently expected, with economic growth above its longer-run trend rate, they would likely judge it appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate modestly later this year."

Consumer prices accelerated in March, though mostly because of gains in gasoline and electricity prices, the U.S. Labor Department said. The consumer price index for all items rose 1.9% over the past 12 months, faster than the 1.5% pace of the prior month and economists' average estimate of a 1.8% increase. Excluding volatile energy and food prices, the index rose just 0.1% during the month, less than the 0.2% gain forecast by economists.

The European Central Bank held interest rates steady on Wednesday. Interest rates on its marginal lending facility and deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0%, 0.25% and -0.4%, respectively. During a press conference Wednesday, ECB President Mario Draghi said the risk of recession for the eurozone remains low. He also said inflation will probably bottom out in September.
 
Draghi also warned of the dangers of protectionism, according to CNBC, referring to "the threat of tariffs from President Trump to Europeans." 
 
"We have to see first of all what happens because you see in the past between words and deeds there is often a big gulf. But certainly the fact that these threats are being vented with some frequency is certainly undermining general confidence," he said.

On the international trade front, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said U.S and China have agreed on the trade deal enforcement mechanism, CNBC reported.

"We've pretty much agreed on an enforcement mechanism. We've agreed that both sides will establish enforcement offices that will deal with the ongoing matters. This is something both sides are taking very seriously," Mnuchin said.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday warned that the global economy was slowing more than expected and a sharp downturn could require world leaders to coordinate stimulus measures.

Delta Air Lines (DAL - Get Report)  beat Wall Street's  first-quarter earnings expectations. The Atlanta-based airline said it earned 96 cents a share on an adjusted basis, compared with estimates of 90 cents. Revenue for the quarter was $10.47 billion, compared with forecasts of $10.42 billion. Shares were up 1.6% to $57.86.

Shares of Apple ( AAPL - Get Report)   rose even after the tech giant received another downgrade from analysts at HSBC. In a research note to clients, HSBC said Wednesday that it downgraded Apple to reduce from hold, noting that the company's focus on shifting more to services such as Apple Card and streaming content will take additional time to yield results. Shares ended up 0.6% to $200.62, the stock's highest close since early November.

Apple is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS member club. Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells AAPL? Learn more now.

In its first earnings report as a public company, Levi Strauss (LEVI) posted quarterly earnings of 37 cents a share on revenue of $1.44 billion.  A year earlier, the jeans company reported a loss of 5 cents a share on revenue $1.34 billion. Shares were up 4% to $22.75.