Stocks Remain Flat Ahead of Fed's Move Next Week

Michael Teague  |

After a week characterized by significant losses for equities, Friday saw stocks on Wall Street mostly flat but erring ever so slightly on the side of gains, as investors tried to situate themselves between divergent economic data in the form of a consistently declining Producer Price Index and a better than expected jobs report, and the next week’s events which include two big votes in the Senate on the budget and the nomination of Janet Yellen as the new Chairwoman of the Federal Reserve. More important than all of this, however, is the outcome of the Fed’s Open Market Committee meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 18, at the conclusion of which many fear a reduction of fiscal stimulus could be announced.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index was off by 0.01 percent to 1,775.32, while the Dow was one-tenth of a percent higher at 15,755.36, and the NASDAQ remained nearly one full point above 4,000 on a gain of 0.06 percent.

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Tech shares provided major support to the S&P 500. Adobe Systems (ADBE) jumped over 12 percent on news of rising subscriptions, while Nielsen Holdings (NLSN) , Electronic Arts (EA) , Autodesk Inc. (ADSK) , and Akamai Technologies (AKAM) were the index’s top gaining stocks of the day. Microsoft (MSFT) provided balance, however, dropping nearly 1.5 percent on heavy trading after Qualcomm ended rumors that COO Steve Mollenkopf would be Steve Ballmer’s replacement by appointing him as their own CEO.’s own Jacob Harper explores the arguments in favor of breaking up the former tech leader here.

$42 billion independent oil & gas driller Andarko Petroleum (APC) saw shares off by nearly 6.5 percent after a judge ruled against it in the Tronox case and ordered it to pay billions in damages and fines. Meanwhile, investors interested in oil services companies will want to take a look at the latest Trends & Ideas segment from S&P Capital IQ devoted to deepwater energy services.

Visa (V) was the Dow’s biggest gainer, up nearly 2 percent, while Cisco (CSCO) and Chevron (CVX) joined Microsoft on the opposite end of the index.

On the NASDAQ, Facebook (FB) saw shares rise for a second day, up nearly 3 percent by the bell on the exchange’s heaviest trading volume. While the tech sector overall performed well on the exchange, micro-cap biotech firm Coronado Biosciences (CNDO) soared almost 21 percent by the end of trading after news of promising interim results from an autism treatment it is currently developing.

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