Major stock indexes were mixed in late morning trading Wednesday as investors waited for the Federal Reserve's latest policy statement for clues about when the central bank may raise interest rates. Energy stocks were among the biggest decliners. Apple and Boeing bucked the trend after reporting impressive earnings.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 19 points, or 0.1 percent, to 17,367 as of 11:21 a.m. Eastern. The Standard & Poor's 500 shed five points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,023. The Nasdaq composite slipped two points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,679.
FED WATCH: The Fed ends its first policy meeting of the year Wednesday afternoon, after which it is widely expected to repeat its pledge to stay patient in raising interest rates from record lows. Inflation has fallen further below the Fed's target rate, thanks to plunging oil prices and a surging dollar that makes imports cheaper. That could prompt the Fed to delay any rate increases beyond June, the earliest that most economists predict the Fed will raise rates.
THE QUOTE: Investors also want to know whether the Fed's statement will include any reference to heightened concerns about global growth, said Quincy Krosby, market strategist for Prudential Financial.
"If they put that in there and you have more of this worry over currencies and so on, then perhaps (the Fed) will be patient even longer than the market expects," Krosby said. "It's not a question of if the Fed raises rates, it's when."
SECTOR WATCH: Seven of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 fell, and energy stocks down the most as the fall in oil prices resumed. The sector is down 3.7 percent this year. Technology stocks led the gainers. The sector is coming off a steep decline on Tuesday.
IPHONE FEVER: Shares in Apple surged $6.76, or 6.2 percent, to $115.90 after the tech giant reported record-smashing earnings for its latest quarter. Apple said late Tuesday that it sold 74.5 million iPhones during the three months that ended Dec. 31, beating Wall Street expectations.
JETSETTER: Boeing's profit vaulted 19 percent in the fourth-quarter on strong demand for commercial jets airliners. The results topped Wall Street expectations by a wide margin. The stock rose $6.42, or 4.8 percent, to $138.90.
STURDY RESULTS: U.S. Steel reported a drop in fourth-quarter profit and revenue, but the financial results beat Wall Street expectations. The stock climbed $2.47, or 11.6 percent, to $23.74.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: European markets were mixed as investors monitored developments in Greece, where the new government said it would change many of the budget measures promised to eurozone creditor nations in exchange for rescue loans. Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent, while France's CAC 40 shed 0.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 lost 0.6 percent.
ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 1.4 percent. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 rose 0.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent. Seoul's Kospi gained 0.5 percent. Markets in Sydney, New Zealand and Bangkok also rose. Benchmarks in Taiwan, India and Singapore declined.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 77 cents to $45.43 in New York. The U.S. releases its inventory report Wednesday. The contract added $1.08 on Tuesday to close at $46.23.
CURRENCY: The dollar edged lower to 117.69 yen from Tuesday's 117.80 yen. The euro edged down to $1.1343 from the previous session's $1.1362.
BONDS: U.S. government bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.79 percent.
AP Business Writer Joe McDonald in Beijing contributed to this story.