Despite coming off early lows, U.S. stocks are firmly down in negative territory in early afternoon trades on Wednesday, as concerns about rising inflation and the sharp plunge of cryptocurrencies weigh on sentiment.

Investors, looking ahead to the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s latest policy meeting for clues on interest rates and the bank’s asset buying program, remain reluctant to pick up stocks despite some upbeat earnings announcements.

The Dow, which plunged nearly 600 points to 33,473.80 in early trades, is down 272.71 points or 0.8 percent at 33,787.95. The Nasdaq dropped to a low of 13,072.23 before recovering well to 13,218.14, cutting down its loss to 85.50 points or 0.64 percent. The S&P 500, which tumbled to 4,061.41 early on in the session, losing about 65 points, has recovered to 4,096.51 now, and is down 31.32 points or 0.76 percent from the previous close.

Lowe’s Co. (LOW) shares are down by about 1.8 percent despite the company reporting a surge in earnings. The company’s earnings came in at $2.32 billion, or $3.21 per share in the first quarter, compared with $1.34 billion, or $1.776 per share, in last year’s first quarter.

Target Corp. (TGT) shares are rising 5.6 percent after the company reported a profit of $2.09 billion, or $4.17 per share, compared with $329 million, or $0.56 per share in the year-ago quarter. Analysts had expected the company to earn $2.25 per share, according to figures compiled by Thomson Reuters.

Shares of Vipshop Holdings Ltd. (VIPS) are plunging 10 percent after the online retailer reported its first-quarter results and issued a revenue outlook for second quarter. Vipshop reported net income of $235.9 million or $0.33 per share. Adjusted income was $261.4 million or $1.84 per share last year.

Chevron, Goldman Sachs, Boeing, Nike, Caterpillar, DuPont, Home Depot and JP Morgan Chase are down 1 to 2.2 percent.

Microsoft, Merck, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Verizon and Procter & Gamble are also weak.

Salesforce.Com shares are rising 2.5 percent. Walmart, Intel and General Electric are up with modest gains.

In overseas trading, the major European markets ended sharply lower today, as fears about inflation and a plunge in cryptocurrencies triggered a sell-off in various sectors.

Asian markets ended lower on Wednesday as inflation worries persisted and investors awaited the Fed meeting minutes to figure out officials’ view on the economic recovery and inflation. Tensions between Beijing and Washington, and rising worries about the spikes in coronavirus cases in Japan hurt as well.

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