A look at highlights from the day's business news:
Stocks skid on global economic jitters
Stocks recovered from deep losses posted earlier in the session but ended lower Wednesday, as investors welcomed the Fed's forecast of an improving economy amid lingering fears about the global economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average finished 67 points lower, or 0.6 percent. Earlier, the index dropped 150 points. Industrial stocks led the decline, with
shares of Caterpillar and Boeing falling more than 2 percent.
The S&P 500 lost 6 points, or 0.5 percent. The broad index also slid as much as 20 points to hit an intraday low of 1100.66. Investors will keep a close eye on 1,100, a key psychological level. If the index breaks below that level, it could trigger further selling or may wind up bringing money back into the
market. The Nasdaq composite slipped 19 points, or 0.8 percent. Earlier in the session, the tech heavy index fell more than 1 percent.
Stocks had tumbled Tuesday as investors shrugged off better-than-expected
earnings from U.S. retailers and remained focused on European debt problems after the euro hit a four-year low against the dollar.
The euro zone's fiscal troubles remained in the spotlight for most of Wednesday following Germany's announcement that it will ban 'naked' short
selling. But the Fed's minutes released later in afternoon lifted the central
bank's outlook for the economy, and in turn boosted investor confidence and prompted U.S. stocks to regain some ground.
Oil backs off 7-month low
After hitting a new 7-month low earlier in the day, oil prices rebounded as investors looked ahead to the expiration date of the active futures contract.
Crude for June delivery, the active contract which expires Thursday, rose 46 cents, or about 0.66 percent, to settle at $69.87 a barrel on Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, crude fell by as much as $1.51, or about 2 percent, to $67.90 a barrel in intra-day trade. That's its lowest level since Sept. 30, 2009, when oil slumped to $66.33 a barrel in intra-day trade.
Gasoline prices at the pump fell for the 13th consecutive day, slipping to $2.852 a gallon from $2.867 the day before, according to a survey by motorist group AAA.
Euro extends gains on dollar
The euro rose 0.87 percent on the dollar to $1.2309 Wednesday, after the European currency touched a new four-year low versus the dollar the day before.
The dollar fell 0.14 percent versus the British pound to $1.4354. It was down 0.44 percent against the Japanese yen at ¥91.832. The dollar is up almost 11 percent against the euro over the month, as the shared currency has taken a hit on debt concerns.
Late Tuesday, Germany's financial regulator announced a ban on so-called naked short sales of debt securities issued by euro zone countries as well as the country's ten leading financial companies. The restrictions will apply until March 31, 2011.
The euro pared back earlier losses against the dollar Wednesday, after Germany said it would ban short selling on some European bank shares and the zone's government bonds.
Treasurys little changed amid volatile trading
Treasurys changed little Wednesday as investors looked for direction amid mixed signals out of Europe and the United States.
Prices straddled the breakeven point much of Wedneday before dipping a bit after the afternoon release of the Federal Reserve's upbeat minutes.
The benchmark 10-year note fell 2/32 to 101-7/32, pushing the yield up to 3.36 percent. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.
The 30-year bond dropped 3/32 to 102-12/32 and yielded 4.24 percent; the 2-year note inched lower to 100-14/32, with a 0.76 percent yield. The 5-year note was down 7/32 to 101-26/32, yielding 2.11 percent.
CNNMoney.com reporters Annalyn Censky, Julianna Pepitone, Chavon Sutton and Hibah Yousuf contributed to this report.