U.S. stocks closed lower Wednesday, as minutes from the Federal Reserve‚Äôs (Fed‚Äôs) latest policy meeting failed to offer investors encouragement. In U.S. economic news, investors had hoped the minutes from the Fed‚Äôs latest meeting would answer questions about when the central bank would start to pull back on its bond purchases, but they did not. The central bank essentially said that it is still looking for continued improvement in the job market, and hinted it may not yet ready to taper its bond-buying program. Meanwhile, existing home sales rose 6.5 percent in July from the prior month. In corporate news, Lowe‚Äôs announced that its quarterly sales and profit rose from a year earlier. The strong results from the home improvement retailer come a day after rival Home Depot also issued an upbeat outlook thanks to the continued recovery in the housing market. Target shares fell even after the retailer announced significant year-over-year gains in sales. Traders seemed worried about slowing sales growth and a more tepid outlook for consumer spending. Shares of Staples dropped more than 15 percent after the office supply retailer reported lower quarterly sales and profit compared to the prior year. The company‚Äôs chief executive blamed the declines on weakness in retail stores and said the company was working to ramp up its online sales. The dollar lost ground against the euro, the pound, and the yen. Light sweet crude oil for October delivery dropped $1.26 to $103.85 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold futures fell $2.50 to $1,370.10 an ounce. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 105.44, or 0.70 percent, to 14,897.55. The broader Standard & Poor‚Äôs 500 index dropped 9.55, or 0.58 percent, to 1,642.80. The technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index fell 13.80, or 0.38 percent, to 3,599.79.