NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks extended their losing streak on Wednesday after the minutes of the most recent Federal Reserve policy meeting showed the central bank still has a pretty high bar for another round of quantitative easing.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost nearly 49 points, or 0.38%, to close at 12,604. The blue-chip index, which bounced 70 points off its session low of 12,534, has fallen for five consecutive days, surrendering 2.6% over that span.

The S&P 500 ticked lower, dipping incrementally to finish at 1341.45. The benchmark index ranged as low as 1333.25. The Nasdaq slumped more than 14 points, or 0.49%, at 2888.

The Fed minutes showed the members of the central bank's open market committee were still expecting "moderate" economic growth for the United States over the next few quarters at the June 19-20 meeting and said only a "few" believed additional stimulus would ultimately be required. The Fed extended its Operation Twist bond maturity program at the meeting.

In order for QE3 to get additional support, the minutes indicated economic conditions would likely have to soften considerably.

"Several others FOMC members noted that additional policy action could be warranted if the economic recovery were to lose momentum, if the downside risks to the forecast became sufficiently pronounced, or if inflation seemed likely to run persistently below the Committee's longer-run objective," the minutes said. "The Committee agreed that it was prepared to take further action as appropriate to promote a stronger economic recovery and sustained improvement in labor market conditions in a context of price stability."

"The minutes from the two-day FOMC meeting that ended on 20th June reveal that US Fed officials are edging closer to launching a third round of large-scale asset purchases, but it won't become a reality unless the recovery loses even more momentum or a more severe flare up in the euro-zone crisis raises the already elevated downside risks," wrote Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

Within the Dow, 21 of the index's 30 components finished lower, led by Boeing ( BA), Home Depot ( HD), Microsoft ( MSFT) and United Technologies ( UTX).

Blue-chip gainers included Bank of America ( BAC), Exxon Mobil ( XOM) and Hewlett-Packard ( HPQ).

Apple ( AAPL) was a drag on the Nasdaq, falling $3.78, or 0.62%, at $604.43 after UBS initiated coverage the stock with a buy rating and a 12-month price target of $740. The firm said it believes the eventual release of the iPhone 5 will be another positive catalyst for the stock, but that there's also some potential earnings hiccups in the interim.

The weakest sectors were capital goods, consumer non-cyclicals, consumer cyclicals and technology. Financials, energy and utilities were areas of strength.

Before the open, the Commerce Department reported the U.S. trade deficit shrank to $48.7 billion in May, from a slightly upwardly revised $50.6 billion in April, which was roughly in line with expectations of $48.5 billion, according to a survey of economists by Thomson Reuters. May exports were $0.4 billion more than April exports of $182.7 billion. May imports were $1.6 billion less than April imports of $233.3 billion.

The Commerce Department also reported that wholesale inventories gained in May at a slower pace of 0.3%, which was in line with expectations as sales experienced their sharpest decline in three years -- and from a downwardly revised 0.5% growth in April -- which could have negative implications for second-quarter GDP estimates.

The FTSE in London settled flat and the DAX in Germany closed up 0.24% as Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy unveiled austerity measures targeted at reducing the country's budget deficit by '65 billion, or $80 billion, over the next two-plus years.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Stock index closed up 0.12% and the Nikkei finished flat.

August crude oil futures rose $1.90 to settle at $85.81 a barrel and August gold futures fell $4.10 to settle at $1,575.70 an ounce.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury fell 5/32, lifting the yield to 1.522%, while the greenback rose 0.10%, according to the dollar index.

In corporate news, VOXX International ( VOXX) reported a fiscal first-quarter loss of $9 million, or 20 cents a share, on sales of $194 million after Tuesday's closing bell. The average estimate of analysts polled by Thomson Reuters was for a profit of 10 cents a share in the May-ended period on revenue of $207.8 million. Shares plunged more than 17.5%.

hhgregg ( HGG) joined the warning parade after Tuesday's closing bell, saying it now expects earnings of 90 cents to $1.05 a share in its fiscal year ending in March 2013. The Indianapolis-based consumer electronics and appliance retailer had previously forecast a profit of $1.12 to $1.27 a share for the year, and Wall Street's current consensus view is for earnings of $1.20 a share. The stock tanked 36.4%.

Canadian precious metals company Goldcorp ( GG) lowered its full-year 2012 gold production outlook to 2.35 and 2.45 million ounces from a previous guidance of 2.6 million ounces. The company cited "operational issues" at its Red Lake and Pe'asquito mines for the weak guidance. Shares tumbled 9.74%.

Shares of Abercrombie & Fitch ( ANF) gained 4.12% following a published report saying that the teen retailer may be planning a massive share buyback.

Healthcare Services Group ( HCSG) shares jumped 8% after the company hiked its quarterly dividend and said that its second-quarter profit rose 15%.

There's a lull for the next few days in earnings headlines with few heavy hitters following up on Alcoa's ( AA) report Monday until JPMorgan and Wells Fargo open their books Friday morning.

Overall, expectations for second-quarter earnings season are fairly low. According to Thomson Reuters, the blended estimate is for year-over-year growth of 5.3% from the S&P 500, down from 8.1% in the first quarter.


-- Written by Andrea Tse and Alexandra Zendrian in New York.

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.