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.

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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.

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European Stocks Slide Ahead of Fed Minutes

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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).

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