Stocks rallied for the majority of Wednesday’s trading session before ending the day mostly lower, as the much anticipated post-FOMC meeting statement was conspicuously devoid of clues as to when the Federal Reserve might reduce its asset purchases from $85 billion a month to $65 billion.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 was down 0.01 percent to 1,685.73, while the Dow shed 0.14 percent to close at 15,499.54, and the NASDAQ ended 0.27 percent higher at 3,626.37.
Trading began with investors reacting positively to positive economic news. The ADP’s National Employment report indicated that the private sector added 200,000 jobs in July, surpassing estimates of 180,000, while the June report was revised up from 188,000 to 198,000.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released GDP data showing that the US economy expanded at an annualized rate of 1.7 percent during the second quarter, almost doubling up on expectations of a 1 percent increase. Wednesday’s results were boosted by revisions to the way in which GDP is calculated.
All the same, most of today’s focus was centered on the Federal Open Market Committee meeting. The monthly two-day meeting concluded with a statement that said nothing about the future of the central bank’s fiscal policy, abandoning investors, analysts, and commentators alike to their own conjectures about the future of quantitative easing.
Financial stocks fared poorly on the S&P 500, led by Visa Inc. (V) , who ended the day 7.5 percent lower after a federal judge overturned an earlier Fed decision to limit debit card transaction fees. Meanwhile, internet security company Symantec (SYMC) ended the day nearly 10 percent higher after beating both top and bottom lines in its second-quarter earnings report.
On the Dow, American Express (AXP) posted the biggest lost, down nearly 2 percent, while on the NASDAQ ended the day in the positive on the strength of tech stocks, with Micron Technology (MU) up over 5 percent after completing its acquisition of memory chip manufacturer Elpida Memory Inc. Semiconductor company Marvell Technology Group Ltd. (MRVL) ended the day 3 percent higher.
Cable television provider Comcast ($CMCS) was up over 5 percent after the company's Q2 earnings beat on both top and bottom lines.