• US stocks mostly lower after Fed extends stimulus

    NEW YORK, June 20, 2012 (AFP) – US stocks closed mostly lower Wednesday after the Federal Reserve extended its bond-swapping program, known as “Operation Twist,” for six months to help boost the flagging economy.

    The program, scheduled to expire at the end of June, was extended through the end of the year, the central bank’s policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee announced after a two-day meeting.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the session down 12.94 points, or 0.10 percent, at 12,824.39..

    The S&P 500-stock index fell 2.29 (0.17 percent) to 1,355.69, while the tech-rich Nasdaq rose a meager 0.69 (0.02 percent) to 2,930.45.

    “Four straight sessions of gains resulted in a cumulative gain greater than 3.0 percent, but that streak was snapped today as participants responded to a flurry of headlines from the Fed,” Briefing.com said.

    “The Fed did the least that was expected, extending Operation Twist until the end of the year, but not altering the size of its balance sheet at all and not — as some analysts suggested it might — changing when it thinks it will start raising rates (still late 2014),” said FT Advisors in a research note.

    Stocks accelerated their losses Wednesday after the policy-setting Federal Open Market Committee announced the extended stimulus, but quickly rebounded.

    Charles Schwab & Co. analysts said the Fed’s monetary policy decision, including leaving interest rates unchanged, and subsequent news conference resulted in an afternoon of choppy and cautious trading.

    “Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Committee is ‘prepared to do more’ if needed, amid a downgrade in its growth and unemployment rate forecasts, and as Fed officials took a slightly more dovish stance in their interest rate assessments,” they said.

    Dow member Procter & Gamble slid 2.9 percent after lowering its fiscal fourth-quarter forecast, citing softer sales growth and negative hits from foreign exchange rate changes.

    JPMorgan Chase jumped 3.0 percent on reports it has sold 65-70 percent of its losing position that had brought a loss of at least $2 billion.

    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide gained 1.0 percent. Starwood, which has 103 hotels open in China, announced it has 100 more in the pipeline.

    Software company Adobe Systems dropped 2.7 percent after reporting a drop in second-quarter profit.

    Burger King surged 3.5 percent. The number-two hamburger chain returned to the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday after being delisted a year and a half ago.

    The bond market was mixed. The yield on 10-year treasuries rose to 1.64 percent from 1.62 percent Tuesday; while that on the 30-year slipped to 2.72 percent from 2.73 percent.

    Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions.

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