Market Ends Three-Day Rally: Stocks ended Wednesday trading lower, despite a decision by the Federal Reserve to keep its bond-buying program in place. The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 206 points, while the S&P 500 (^GSPC) lost 23 points and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) gave up 39.
The Fed said it will maintain the pace of its bond purchases -- $85 million a month -- for now, even as it offered a more optimistic outlook for the U.S. economy and job market. In a statement, issued after the Fed's two-day policy meeting, the Fed said the economy is growing moderately, and that the risks to recovery it warned of last fall had diminished. The Fed also forecast that the nation's jobless rate would fall to 7.2-to-7.3 percent by year's end and drop as low as 6.5 percent by the end of 2014.
In earnings news, FedEx (FDX) reported its fiscal fourth-quarter profit tumbled 45 percent even as the delivery company beat earnings expectations. What's more, the company's forecast for the next 12 months was shy of Wall Street forecasts, but shares ended the day higher, up more than 1 percent to $100.54.
George Zimmer, founder and longtime spokesman for The Men's Wearhouse (MW) is out of a job. The Fremont., Calif.-based company early Wednesday issued a terse statement announcing Zimmer's departure but offered no clue as to why it had fired the executive chairman. Zimmer shot back, telling CNBC that he was fired after he expressed concerns to the board about the company's direction and that the board "inappropriately has chosen to silence my concerns."
Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Jo White is taking a stronger stance against wrongdoers, saying the SEC will now demand admissions of wrongdoing in cases involving serious fraud or harm to investors, and where "it's very important to have that public acknowledgement and accountability."
A court in Milan has convicted designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana of tax evasion, for failing to declare $1.3 billion in income to authorities. The court handed both men a suspended sentenced of 20 months in jail. Neither Dolce nor Gabbana were present in the court. Both executives have denied the charges, which had been thrown out two years ago by another judge. A spokesman for privately held Dolce & Gabanna declined immediate comment, Reuters reported.
Watch for more earnings Thursday, as Kroger (KR), Pier 1 Imports (PIR) and Rite Aid (RAD) are all due to report before U.S. markets open. After the closing bell, watch for earnings from Oracle (ORCL).
On the economic calendar, there are several key reports due Thursday, including existing home sales, weekly jobless claims and leading indicators.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.