Stocks Waver as FOMC Commences Monthly Meeting

Michael Teague  |

Investors were hit with a number of concerns on Tuesday that saw stocks ending the day slightly lower. With the consumer price index more or less flat for the month of November, some on Wall Street speculated that the Fed would be less likely to announce a tapering of its bond purchases at the conclusion of its monthly meeting on Wednesday, but fears about another looming debt ceiling debacle sent stocks bouncing up and down throughout the day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was off by 0.06 percent to 15,875.26, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 was 0.31 percent lower to 1,781, and the NASDAQ was off 0.14 percent to 4,023.68.

Conglomerate 3M Co. (MMM) topped the Dow Industrials, adding nearly 3 percent by the closing bell after announcing a 35 percent increase of its dividend, along with a share repurchasing program. Credit card giant Visa (V) was not far behind as the company continues to enjoy a strong quarter. Investors focused on the financial sector will not want to miss the first installment’snew series on the most prevalent conspiracy theoriesin the world of banking.

On the downside, Verizon Wireless (VZ) lost 1.4 percent, possibly a reaction to the news of Frontier Communications’ (FTR) $2 billion purchase of AT&T’s (T) wireline communications network.

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The news was good for Frontier on the S&P 500, with the telecom firm adding nearly 10 percent on heavy trading by the closing bell. Embattled department store stock JC Penney (JCP) continued to struggle as was the index’s worst performer, losing nearly 4 percent by the bell. For more on companies that are trying to make the turnaround heading into 2014, the Equities.comTurnaround Stock Portfolio has been updated, with a rundown of how our losers have been doing over the past month.

On the NASDAQ, notable performances from tech shares included Facebook (FB) , up nearly 2 percent. Holiday sales are making an excellent ending to an excellent yearfor the company that began 2013 under great duress resulting from the previous year’s disastrous IPO.

In healthcare, Ariad Pharmaceuticals (ARIA) was one of the day’s bright spots, adding 7.5 percent as it appears as though its Iclusig treatment is being given serious considerationfor approval in Europe.

On the New York Stock Exchange, global mining giant BHP Billiton (BHP) dropped three-quarters of a percent after the company announced job cuts and a halt in production at one of its mines in Western Australia after an earthquake that has left geologists in the region afraid of more seismic activity.

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