U.S. stocks are moving in a tight range in late afternoon trades Wednesday as investors remain hesitant to create fresh positions ahead of the crucial inflation data, due on Thursday.

Despite continued optimism about strong economic rebound from the pandemic, the market is weighed down by concerns over rising inflation and fears about the Federal Reserve starting discussions on tapering its asset buying program sooner than expected.

The major averages are exhibiting a mixed trend. The Dow is down 54.72 points or 0.16% at 34,545.10. The Nasdaq is up 29.80 points or 0.21% at 13954.71, while the S&P 500 is up 2.29 points or 0.05% at 4,229.55.

Caterpillar, Travelers Companies, Nike, General Electric, JP Morgan Chase, American Express, Boeing, Goldman Sachs and DuPont are down with sharp to moderate losses.

Merck is surging up nearly 2.5%. Amgen, IBM and Johnson & Johnson are gaining 1.2 to 1.5%. Microsoft, Intel, Visa, Apple and Walt Disney are modestly higher.

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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