Wall Street wobbled through a listless session and closed mixed Tuesday as investors awaited the results of this week’s Federal Reserve meeting. Modest gains in the Dow Jones industrial average were enough for the index to set new trading and closing records.
NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street wobbled through a listless session and closed mixed Tuesday as investors awaited the results of this week’s Federal Reserve meeting. Modest gains in the Dow Jones industrial average were enough for the index to set new trading and closing records.
The Fed’s Open Market Committee began a two-day meeting Tuesday, and while many investors expected the central bank’s policymakers to leave interest rates unchanged for the third straight meeting, there was still concern on the Street about the assessment of the economy to be issued Wednesday afternoon.
Wall Street’s performance was in contrast to a big rally Monday, when the Dow surged 114 points to a record high close and other indexes posted big gains.
Steve Sachs, director of trading at Rydex Investments, contends that the run-up this month in the Dow and blue chip stocks in general has occurred too quickly to avoid a pullback. “There’s probably good reason for the rally to at least pause here.”
According to preliminary calculations, the Dow rose 10.97, or 0.09 percent, to 12,127.88, eclipsing the record close of 12,116.91 set Monday. The Dow also set a new trading high of 12,133.80, edging past a day-old record of 12,125.16 before giving back some of its gains.
Broader stock indicators ended the day mixed after spending much of the session lower. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was up 0.36, or 0.03 percent, at 1,377.38, and the Nasdaq composite index was down 10.72, or 0.45 percent, at 2,344.84.
Bonds rose slightly as investors awaited the Fed’s decision. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note fell to 4.82 percent from 4.83 percent late Monday. The dollar was mixed against other major currencies, while gold prices rose.
Light, sweet crude settled up 54 cents at $59.35 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Falling oil prices, which fell to lows for the year last week, have helped drive stocks higher in the last several months.
Sachs expects investors will stop and catch their breath as earnings season winds down and Wall Street receives economic news from the Fed and an advance reading of third-quarter’s gross domestic product. The Commerce Department report on the broadest measure of the economy is due Friday. Sachs also contends that the rise in the major indexes has at times occurred with too few stocks driving the advances.
“I would’ve liked to have seen the move be a little more broad. We’re definitely a little overbought here,” he said.
A report from the Richmond Fed might have stirred some concern among investors about how quickly the economy might be slowing. The Richmond Fed found that manufacturing activity in the central Atlantic region has been flat to slightly lower this month.
Edmund Hyland, global investment strategist at JPMorgan Private Bank, believes that although Wall Street largely expects the Fed will leave short-term interest rates untouched, investors are holding their breath until after the Fed meeting.
“It’s just sideways movement in anticipation of the Fed,” Hyland said.
“I think it’s healthy to have the market step back periodically or slow down and reassess itself and then move on based on strong fundamentals.”
The Fed left interest rates unchanged starting in August, interrupting a two-year string of 17 straight increases. In sending stocks higher in recent months, investors have bet that the Fed will see the economy as having slowed adequately to keep inflation in check and forestall an interest rate increase.
Besides economic data, Wall Street was also keeping a close eye on third-quarter earnings reports. DuPont Co., the chemical company, posted stronger-than-expected results as did Lucent Technologies Inc., a maker of telecom equipment.
DuPont, one of the strongest performers of the 30 stocks that make up the Dow, rose 55 cents to $46 after posting a higher third-quarter profit and an increase in sales.
Lucent reported essentially flat fiscal fourth-quarter earnings amid a 5 percent increase in revenue. Lucent, which is being acquired by France’s Alcatel SA, topped Wall Street’s forecasts and rose 15 cents, of 6.4 percent, to $2.49.
Texas Instruments Inc. fell $1.36, or 4.3 percent, to $30.52 after the chipmaker warned that lower orders would hurt sales in the current quarter.
Telecom operator BellSouth Corp. rose 3 cents to $45.62 after strength in its wireless and broadband divisions helped push overall third-quarter profits up 29.6 percent.
Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor, advanced 92 cents to $89.11 after reporting a 47 percent jump in its third-quarter profit and raising its 2006 financial forecast.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by about 9 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 1.69 billion shares compared with 1.54 billion shares Monday.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies was down 1.09, or 0.14 percent, at 762.43.
Overseas, Japan’s Nikkei stock average closed down 0.05 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 closed up 0.27 percent, Germany’s DAX index was up 0.07 percent, and France’s CAC-40 was down 0.13 percent.