US stocks up slightly

US stocks up slightly

Wall Street ended an erratic day with a modest gain after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged and issued a mixed assessment of the economy.

The Fed pointed to a few positive signs in the economy, including "some firming in household spending".

However, it also said persistently rising energy prices are likely to limit growth - and not just quicken inflation, which also remains a major concern for the Central Bank.

The Central Bank said after a two-day meeting it is keeping the benchmark federal funds rate at 2%.

The hold was expected, after several speeches by Fed officials suggesting that inflation is becoming a bigger worry for policymakers. It was the first time in 10 months that the central bank did not cut rates - last summer, the key rate was above 5%.

The Fed is at a critical turning point, said Quincy Krosby, chief investment strategist for The Hartford. There are still big credit troubles at the nation's major banks, the job market has been deteriorating for several months, and home prices are still tumbling; to raise rates prematurely could cause these trends to worsen further.

"The goal of the central banks is to get us through this as smoothly as possible, but this is not a science; it is an art form," Krosby said. "This is as delicate as it gets."

Barring another sharp rise in unemployment or a dramatic drop in gross domestic product, the Fed seems to be leaning toward raising rates again, Krosby said. "Nonetheless, they've left the window open for a cut if need be."

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 4.40, or 0.04%, to 11,811.83, after rising more than 100 points shortly after the Fed announcement. Trading is often erratic after a rate decision as the market parses the central bank's statement.

A sharp drop in Boeing Inc. also dragged on Dow. Shares of the aircraft manufacturer dropped to their lowest level in more than two years, and finished down 5.15, or 6.9%, at 69.64.

Broader stock indicators managed to log stronger gains than the blue chips. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 7.68, or 0.58%, to 1,321.97, and the Nasdaq composite index rose 32.98, or 1.39%, to 2,401.26.

Government bond prices pared their losses after the rate decision. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, was at 4.11%, up from 4.10% late on Tuesday.

More in this Section

Free trade agreement ‘very difficult if UK does not comply with EU standards’Free trade agreement ‘very difficult if UK does not comply with EU standards’

Microsoft pledges to remove entire historical carbon footprint by 2050Microsoft pledges to remove entire historical carbon footprint by 2050

''Politically-sensitive'' costs of rents and health insurance rise''Politically-sensitive'' costs of rents and health insurance rise

C&C shares sink on news of CEO exitC&C shares sink on news of CEO exit


Lifestyle

Bryan Stevenson is the American civil rights lawyer who provided the inspiration for the newly-released film Just Mercy. Esther McCarthy spoke to him in IrelandReal-life lawyer Bryan Stevenson on inspiring Just Mercy

So I’ve booked my holidays. And before you ask, yes, I’m basing it around food and wine. I’ll report back in July, but I thought readers might be interested in my plan should you be thinking about a similar holiday.Wines to pick up on a trip to France

Esther N McCarthy is on a roll for the new year with sustainable solutions, cool citruses and vintage vibes.Wish List: Sustainable solutions, cool citruses and vintage vibes

They have absolutely nothing really to do with Jerusalem or indeed with any type of artichoke, so what exactly are these curious little tubers?Currabinny Cooks: Exploring the versatility of Jerusalem artichokes

More From The Irish Examiner