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Stocks End Mixed on Earnings, Powell's Growth Expectations

Stocks finish mixed as investors weigh earnings from JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs and Fed Chairman Jerome Powell's comments on the pace of U.S. growth.

Stocks finished mixed Wednesday as investors weighed earnings from JPMorgan Chase  (JPM) - Get JP Morgan Chase & Co. Report and Goldman Sachs  (GS) - Get Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (The) Report and as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said interest rates wouldn't be lifted until the central bank's targets on employment and inflation were met.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 set intraday records during Wednesday's session.

The Dow finished up 53 points, or 0.16%, to 33,730. The S&P 500 fell 0.41% and the Nasdaq declined 0.99%.

JPMorgan reported first-quarter earnings of $4.50 a share vs. 78 cents a share a year earlier. Analysts were expecting earnings of $3.09 a share.

Earnings at the biggest U.S. bank got a boost from the release of about $5.2 billion in provisions for bad loans. The stock fell 1.8% on Wednesday.

Goldman Sachs posted earnings for the first quarter of $18.60 a share, six times the year-earlier earnings of $3.11. Analysts were calling for Goldman Sachs to post a profit of $10.22. Revenue at Goldman Sachs also topped estimates.

Wells Fargo's  (WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report first-quarter earnings were better than expected after the bank released $1.6 billion of reserves for credit losses. 

Some of the Dow's leading gainers were Goldman Sachs, Travelers  (TRV) - Get The Travelers Companies Inc. Report and Chevron  (CVX) - Get Chevron Corporation Report. Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report and JPMorgan Chase were among the laggards.

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Powell said Wednesday the Fed's targets for jobs and inflation likely won't be met before the end of 2022.

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“Most members of the committee did not see raising interest rates until 2024, but that isn’t a committee forecast, it isn’t something we vote on or act on as a group - it really is just our assessment,” Powell said Wednesday at a virtual discussion hosted by the Economic Club of Washington. 

“Markets focus too much on what we call the economic predictions, and I would focus more on the outcomes that we’ve described.”

The central bank chief also said the U.S. was entering a period of faster growth and jobs creation but a resurgence of COVID-19 could derail the recovery.

The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury rose Wednesday to 1.641% following an auction of 30-year bonds that was met with strong demand. Yields have eased in April as fears have ebbed that the Federal Reserve would boost interest rates sooner than expected to curtail inflation resulting from the U.S. recovery.

The S&P 500 closed at a record Tuesday as investors looked past an uptick in U.S. consumer inflation. The Dow declined after U.S. health officials recommended a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson's  (JNJ) - Get Johnson & Johnson Report coronavirus vaccine following rare clotting cases.

The White House said its vaccination program remained on pace despite the pause in distributing the J&J vaccine.

"By all accounts," traders "took the well-telegraphed inflation 'pickup' in stride," said Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axicorp. "All the while, markets remain seemingly unfazed by the halt in that J&J Covid-19 vaccine rollout."

Coinbase Global  (COIN) - Get Coinbase Global Inc Report, the largest U.S. digital currency exchange, began trading Wednesday at $381, 52% above its reference price of $250 a share. The stock lost ground during the day and finished up 31% at $328.28.

The company went public through a direct listing Wednesday.

Bitcoin set a record Wednesday, rising as high as $64,829 ahead of the Coinbase listing, according to CoinDesk. It was pulled down by CoinBase and was down 1.3% to $62,080.