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US stocks close mostly higher after Fed minutes; utilities jump more than 1 pct

U.S. stocks closed mostly higher on Wednesday as investors digested the release of the Federal Reserve's July meeting.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed about 20 points higher, with 3M contributing the most gains. The S&P 500 gained approximately 0.2 percent, with utilities advancing more than 1 percent. The Nasdaq composite underperformed, barely closing above breakeven

U.S. Treasurys traded higher after the minutes were released, with the two-year note yield at 0.73 percent and the benchmark 10-year yield at 1.55 percent.

"It appears there are not a lot of fireworks ... that came out of this set of minutes," said Bill Northey, chief investment officer at the Private Client Group at U.S. Bank. He also said "this is setting up for one more move" which, in his opinion, will take place in December.

Some voting Federal Reserve policymakers expect that a U.S. interest rate increase will be needed soon, although there is general agreement that more data is needed before such a move, according to the minutes from the Fed's July policy meeting.

"Some ... members anticipated that economic conditions would soon warrant taking another step in removing policy accommodation," the Fed said in the minutes..

Mark Spellman, portfolio manager at Alpine Funds, said after the minutes were released that "the market doesn't believe what they say, though." "In the last couple of days, you had some Fed governors saying the market isn't discounting enough of a chance of a rate hike — and the minutes that, too."

Still, he said "in those minutes, I don't think there's anything that's going to change a lot of opinions" about the Fed.

About 20 minutes before the minutes were released, the Dow traded about 10 points higher, while the benchmark S&P 500 held near flat. The Nasdaq held slightly lower.

"The vast majority of Fed meeting and/or Fed minute days we open lower and then we continue with an upward bias," Adam Sarhan, CEO of Sarhan Capital, said ahead of the minutes' release. "Buyers are...