NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stock indices lost momentum Wednesday as the markets looked ahead to a trio of interest-rate setting results on Thursday and the big job report on Friday. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book snapshot of economic conditions didn't hold any surprises.
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The Dow Jones Industrial AverageI:DJI rose 0.06% to 17,078.28. The S&P 500I:GSPC declined 0.08% to 2,000.72 after reaching a record intraday high of 2,009.28. The NasdaqI:IXIC was down 0.56% to 4,572.57. Apple (AAPL) - Get Report fell 4.22% to $98.94 on calls to take profits heading into the tech giant's Sept. 9 media event.
Stocks began the morning strong on hints of progress in striking a cease-fire deal between Kiev and pro-Russia rebels, but started to lose momentum when the VIX broke below 12 in early morning trading, said Schaeffer's senior vice president of research, Todd Salamone. While volume has been light on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (SPY) - Get Report , put volume has been relatively high, indicating an absence of buying interest and potentially a lot of hedging activity, according to Salamone.
"With the VIX below 12 -- perceived cheap portfolio protection -- ahead of the ECB/BOJ/BOE monetary policy decisions tomorrow and the August employment report on Friday, hedging activity could be creating a headwind ahead of Thursday and Friday trading," said Salamone.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is under rising pressure to inject additional stimulus into the world markets after raising such hopes at last month's central bankers symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo.
"The expectation is he will unleash more stimulus. If it is more than expected, markets will likely rally. If it is less than expected we could be in for a hard day tomorrow," said Karyn Cavanaugh, CFA, senior market strategist, Voya Investment Management.
The Fed's Beige Book for September spoke of moderate or modest economic growth in 10 of 12 Fed districts. None of the areas witnessed a distinct shift in the pace of growth. There was slight to moderate consumer spending growth in most regions, as loan volumes rose in most. The manufacturing outlook was broadly optimistic.
U.S. factory orders data that arrived before the Beige Book was in line with expectations as well. Orders jumped 10.5% in July vs. the 11% consensus, the Census Bureau reported on Wednesday. As expected, they fell 0.8% excluding the transportation component, which was driven by big orders from Boeing (BA) - Get Report . Strong underlying results such as a 1.2% rise in shipments and a June upward revision was consistent with expectations of continued manufacturing expansion.
In Wednesday's corporate headlines,Delta Air Lines (DAL) - Get Report slumped 5.16% to $38.82 after warning of higher jet fuel costs in the third quarter and trimming operating margin and passenger unit revenue growth forecasts for the period due to the geopolitical concerns.
Netflix (NFLX) - Get Report was up 0.17% to $477.39 after striking a deal with Time Warner's (TWX) Warner Bros. to secure streaming rights in the U.S. and international markets for "Gotham," a TV show that tells of the city before Batman, and is one of the fall's most anticipated new dramas, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.
The United States Oil Fund LP (USO) - Get Report rose 2.18% to $35.55 and the SPDR Gold Trust (GLD) - Get Report added 0.41% to $122.15 as the U.S. dollar drifted lower against a basket of major currencies.
--By Andrea Tse in New York