US stocks mixed after strong auto sales report

DANIEL WAGNER AP Business Writer Published:

U.S. stocks are trading lower at midday despite solid reports on auto sales and factory orders. Traders are waiting for news about the Federal Reserve's plans to nurture economic growth.

The government said after the market opened Tuesday that orders to factories rose by a solid 1.3 percent in February. The data bolstered earlier signals that consumers are spending again after cutting back during the recession.

The Federal Reserve will release minutes of its March policy meeting at 2 p.m. EDT. The minutes will inform traders wondering whether the Fed will abandon its pledge to keep interest rates near zero into 2014.

The Dow is down 54 points at 13,210. The S&P 500 index is down six at 1,413. The Nasdaq composite average is down four at 3,115.