U.S. stocks closed slightly weak on Wednesday as investors largely stayed cautious and refrained from making significant moves ahead of the much-awaited inflation data, due on Thursday.

Despite continued optimism about strong economic rebound, the mood in the market was subdued due to concerns over rising inflation and fears about the Federal Reserve starting discussions on tapering its asset buying program sooner than expected.

Among the major averages, the Dow briefly emerged into positive territory around mid morning after a weak start, but faltered soon and languished in the red languished in the red thereafter. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 managed to hold in positive territory, moving in a tight range, but slipped in the closing minutes.

The Dow ended down by 152.68 points or 0.44 percent at 34,447.14. The S&P 500 closed lower by 7.71 points or 0.18 percent at 4,219.55, while the tech-laden Nasdaq edged down 13.16 points or 0.09 percent to 13,911.75.

Caterpillar, Boeing, American Express, General Electric, Home Depot, JP Morgan Chase and Nike ended lower by 1 to 2.5 percent.

Merck & Co shares moved up by over 2 percent after the company announced that the U.S. government had agreed to buy about 1.7 million courses of the company’s experimental COVID-19 treatment, molnupiravir, for about $1.2 billion, if the drug meets regulatory approval.

Johnson & Johnson, IBM, Amgen, Microsoft and Apple closed with modest gains.

On the economic front, data from the Commerce Department showed wholesale inventories in the U.S. rose by 0.8% from a month earlier to US$ 698.0 billion in April, after seeing a 1.2% increase in the previous month.

In overseas trading, Asian stocks ended broadly lower on Wednesday as investors digested mixed Chinese inflation data and looked ahead to the release of U.S. inflation data for clues on how soon the Federal Reserve might start tapering its stimulus program.

European stocks closed mixed on Wednesday with traders largely staying wary of building up positions as they looked ahead to upcoming U.S. inflation data and the policy meeting of the European Central Bank for directional clues.

The pan European Stoxx 600 edged up 0.09%. France’s CAC 40 advanced 0.19%, while the U.K.’s FTSE 100 ended 0.2% down and Germany’s DAX declined 0.38%. Switzerland’s SMI climbed 1.13%.

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