Energy shares weigh on Wall Street

Wall Street sign Image copyright Reuters

Energy shares weighed on the US indexes on Wednesday as a fall in the price of oil hit the sector.

Exxon Mobil closed down 1.5% and Chevron was 1.6% lower, following a sharp drop in crude oil prices.

That weighed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which ended the day flat at 21,478.17. The S&P 500 was up 0.15% at 2,432.54, while the Nasdaq was 0.67% higher at 6,150.86.

Technology shares provided some support for those indexes.

Microsoft finished 1.3% higher, Facebook gained 1.3% and Google was up 1.4%.

Two hours before the markets closed the minutes of the Federal Reserve's most recent meeting were released, but had little impact on the share indexes.

The minutes revealed that the Fed's policymakers were split on the outlook for inflation and how it might affect the future pace of interest rate rises

Investors had been hoping for insight on the central bank's plans for interest rate hikes or possible balance sheet reduction.

"I see a murky, opaque message," Stephen Massocca, senior vice president at Wedbush Securities in San Francisco, said.

"We've gotten a little bit of weaker economic data of late and we seem to have deflation starting to set in, said Robert Phipps, director at Per Stirling Capital Management.

"That does call into question whether or not we are going to see as aggressive a Fed as they are telling us to expect," he added.