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Market Recap: Markets Slump on Bernanke's Speech & EU Crisis

Markets finished well today:

▲ Dow: +0.37 percent

 Nasdaq: -0.48 percent

 S&P: -0.01 percent

Precious metals:

 Gold: up -1.72 percent to $1,589.83 an ounce

 Silver: up -2.53 percent to settle at $28.58

Commodities:

 Oil: -1.34 percent

Markets were up because:

Investors didn't hear what they wanted from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

An early rally in stocks faded in the afternoon Thursday after Bernanke signaled no immediate further steps from the Fed to stoke economic growth in the United States, which has shown signs of faltering.

A report that Americans cut back sharply on their credit card purchases in April, suggesting consumers were losing confidence in the economy, also took some steam out of the market.

Bank stocks also lost ground late in the day after the Fed said it wants U.S. banks to set aside more money to cushion against unexpected losses, a key step in preventing another financial crisis.

The Dow Jones industrial average had been up as much as 140 points but closed up 46.17 points, or 0.3 percent, at 12,460.96.

Bernanke told a joint economic committee in Congress that the Fed was ready to act if the economy needs it, but he did not spell out any additional steps on the way.

The Fed chairman said the central bank was "prepared to take action as needed to protect the U.S. financial system and economy in the event that financial stresses escalate."

Weaker hiring in May and comments by a Fed regional president had led some investors to hope that the Fed might try something new. The stock market enjoyed its biggest rally of the year on Wednesday.

On Thursday, the early rally in stocks came after China cut its benchmark lending rate for the first time in nearly four years, adding to efforts to reverse a sharp slowdown in economic growth there.

The broader stock market drifted lower during the afternoon as well. The Standard & Poor's 500 index ended down 0.14 point at 1,314.99. The Nasdaq composite index finished down 13.70 points at 2,831.02.

Industrial stocks that rely heavily on the Chinese market for sales were among the biggest gainers on the New York Stock Exchange. Heavy equipment maker Caterpillar rose 48 cents to $87.14.

The price of gold, which since 2009 has often surged as the Fed has bought bonds to stimulate the economy, fell almost 3 percent after Bernanke's testimony. Gold declined $46 an ounce, the biggest decline since April, to $1,588.

Gold tends to fall when traders expect the value of the dollar to rise, which is a likely outcome if the Fed doesn't take steps to keep interest rates low, like buying government bonds.

Some fear over Europe was allayed Thursday when Spain raised $2.6 billion from the bond market. The interest rate on its benchmark 10-year note fell to 6.02 percent from 6.26 percent late Wednesday in trading on the secondary market, a sign that bond investors have more confidence in Spain's finances.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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