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Market Recap: Sell-Off Manages to Bring Stocks Back From Brink

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Markets closed down today:

▼ Dow: -0.19 percent

▼ Nasdaq: -0.29 percent

▼ S&P: -0.31 percent

Precious metals:

▼ Gold: -0.34 percent to $1,702.61 an ounce

▲ Silver: +0.10 percent to settle at $31.73

Commodities:

▼ Oil: -1.06 percent

Markets were down today because:

The steep losses were slowed down Wednesday as the stock market regained a little confidence, a day after one of its biggest sell-offs of the year. Indexes ended with slight losses after the Federal Reserve said the U.S. economy still needs support.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 25.19 points at 13,077.34, a day after one of its worst drops this year.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 4.36 points to close at 1,408.75 while the Nasdaq composite index fell 8.76 points to 2,991.70.

Lower corporate revenue and expectations for the rest of the year drove the Dow down 243 points Tuesday, its third-biggest drop this year. DuPont, 3M, UPS and Xerox all reported lower sales than a year ago.

The market flitted between small gains and losses for much of the day. Indexes started to fade after 2 p.m., after the Fed repeated its assessment that the U.S. economic recovery remains modest at best.

At the end of its latest two-day meeting, the Fed said the economy is still expanding at just a "moderate pace" and that it needs time to see whether a new bond-buying effort launched in September will spur economic growth and new hiring.

Third-quarter earnings reports have mainly disappointed investors. The Dow has risen just one day in the last five, a gain of two points on Monday. It lost 205 on Friday following poor results from Microsoft, General Electric and McDonald's.

The latest batch of earnings reports wasn't as dire, and there was the occasional piece of encouraging news.

Facebook had its best day since its stock market debut in May. The company said late Tuesday that 14 percent of its advertising revenue came from mobile devices, allaying some investor concerns.

The social network's stock soared $3.73 to $23.23, a jump of 19 percent. Facebook has swung widely since its IPO at $38, and has traded as low as $17.55.

AT&T, which is part of the Dow average, said it added the fewest wireless customers since 2003, far behind Verizon Wireless. AT&T's results still managed to beat the estimates of financial analysts. AT&T slid 29 cents to $34.71.

A measure of manufacturing in China, the world's second-largest economy after the United States, improved this month to a three-month high. China's white-hot economic growth has been slowing.

Homebuilder stocks gained after the Commerce Department reported that sales of new homes jumped last month to the highest level in more than two years. Toll Brothers rose 70 cents to $35.25 and D.R. Horton rose 32 cents to $21.41.

Prices for U.S. government bonds inched lower, sending yields up. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note edged up to 1.79 percent from 1.76 percent late Tuesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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