Closing Bell: Stocks End Mixed Despite Fed Assurances on Stimulus

new york stock exchange trader investing federal reserve minutes oil prices
Richard Drew/AP

U.S. stock markets ended Wednesday trading mixed despite evidence that the Federal Reserve isn't about to pull away its support for the economy.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) lost 9 points, the S&P 500 (^GPSC) was essentially flat and the Nasdaq (^IXIC) rose nearly 17.

Minutes from the Fed's latest policy meeting showed that many members agreed last month that the job market's improvement would have to be sustained before the Fed reduced its bond purchases. Several felt confident that a pullback in bond purchases could occur soon.

The price of oil rose nearly 2 percent after the government reported another steep decline in the nation's supplies of oil and gasoline. Benchmark crude for August delivery rose $1.05, or 1 percent, to $104.58 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Oil has risen about $12 a barrel, or 13 percent, in the past two weeks to the highest level since early May of last year. The spike initially was caused by turmoil in Egypt. In other commodities trading, the price of gold rose $4.76, or 0.4 percent, to $1,253.49 an ounce.

In regulatory news, the Securities and Exchange Commission voted to lift an 80-year-old ban on publicizing shares of hedge funds and other businesses that issue private stock. It's a move that is expected to transform how startups and investment firms raise cash.

Among stocks making big moves:

  • Shares of Apple (AAPL) fell $1.62, or 0.4 percent, to $420.73, after a federal judge in New York ruled that the company broke antitrust laws and conspired with publishers to raise e-book prices significantly in 2010. Apple disagreed with the court's finding and said it would appeal the ruling.

  • Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) rose 46 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $25.93 after a Citigroup (C) analyst raised his rating on the company. The analyst doubled his price target for the stock, saying the PC maker's turnaround efforts are beginning to take hold.

  • Fastenal (FAST), an industrial and construction supplies distributor, fell $1.33, or 2.8 percent, to $45.77. The company reported revenue for the second quarter that fell short of analyst estimates.

  • Family Dollar Stores (FDO) rose $4.55, or 7.1 percent, to $68.50 after the company's profit beat analyst forecasts.

  • Swiss drugmaker Roche said it stopped studies of its diabetes drug, aleglitazar, because of safety concerns and a lack of evidence that the drug was working. Roche said an independent monitoring committee recommended that it stop the late-stage trial -- and halting all trials of the drug. Shares of Roche, traded on the over-the-counter market, gained 64 cents to $63.15.

What to Watch Thursday:

  • The Labor Department reports weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.

  • Import and export prices for June are also released at 8:30 a.m. from the Labor Department.

  • Freddie Mac, the mortgage company, releases weekly mortgage rates at 10 a.m.

  • Treasury releases the federal budget for June at 2 p.m.


Originally published