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US shares mixed as dollar gets boost

NYSE traders Image copyright Getty Images

(Close): There was no clear driver behind Wall Street's somewhat mixed performance on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones was down at 20,659.32, a fall of 42.18 points or 0.20%.

The S&P 500 gained 2.56 points or 0.11% to hit 2,361.13 while the Nasdaq put on 22.41 points or 0.38% to 5,897.55.

Market watchers said sentiment was influenced by uncertainty over government tax reforms, the pace of US interest rate rises and the formal start of the UK's Brexit process.

On the currency markets the dollar was up by 0.04% against the pound at £0.8038 and it was up by 0.40% against the euro at 0.9288 euros.

The dollar was helped by remarks about interest rate rises made by some Federal Reserve officials.

The US central bank or Federal Reserve System is made up of 12 Federal Reserve Banks around the country.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said he wants to see further interest rate hikes this year, while Boston Fed President Eric Rosengren said the Fed should raise rates three more times in 2017.

But while currency markets appeared to welcome the prospect of rate rises, investors in stocks and shares were apparently unmoved.

"The market seems to be unfazed by the fact that the Fed is looking to be somewhat aggressive in raising rates," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

Oil was also higher. Brent Crude was 1.9% ahead at $52.30 while West Texas Intermediate was up by 2.2% at $49.42.

Prices rose after US gasoline stockpiles dropped sharply last week, while crude oil inventories grew less than anticipated.