Markets Stall as All Eyes Focus on Fed


As of 12:45 p.m. EDT, with just more than an hour before the Federal Reserve is scheduled to conclude its two-day meeting and announce the fate of its quantitative-easing program, the markets are slightly lower. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 19 points, or 0.13%, while the S&P 500 is down 0.11% and the Nasdaq has lost 0.17% of its value.

While some market participants believe the Fed will leave its bond-buying program alone for the time being, others fear the Fed will begin taking its foot off the gas and allow interest rates to rise. But regardless of what the central bank says or does today, volatility will probably rise this afternoon, and there's a good chance the market will make a big move in one direction or the other.

So far it's been a pretty dull day for the Dow. Let's take a look at three components that are standing out -- and not in a good way.

Shares of the Dow's telecommunications stocks are leading the index lower. AT&T is down 0.9%, while Verizon has lost 1.1%. The likely cause for the drops is the announcement that DISH Network will no longer seek to buy Sprint Nextel . DISH said it would no longer raise its purchase price after rival bidder SoftBank increased its offer last week. This move opens the door for SoftBank to acquire Sprint, which is not what AT&T and Verizon investors wanted to see. SoftBank has deep pockets, so it could surely help the company get back on its feet in the U.S. and perhaps even open new markets around the world to the straggling telecom. We have recently seen both AT&T and Verizon shopping around for smaller telecom companies outside the U.S., and now Sprint may also be a player in these markets.

Another big loser on the Dow today is Boeing . The aerospace company's shares have fallen 1.1%, and its biggest competitor, Airbus, may be the cause. Airbus has announced that it made a few big sales at the Paris Air show yesterday, which is a sign that the company's A350 and A330 wide-body jets are attracting customers and may pose a real threat to Boeing's own wide-body aircraft, the 787 and 777. Still, today's move is simply a headline-driven reaction and is a part of the market's regular ups and downs.

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