U.S. stocks finished at or near records on Wednesday, though the Dow closed nearly flat, as the Federal Reserve did little to indicate a change of the regime of ultralow interest rates amid the pandemic. The Fed said it was optimistic on the current recovery but emphasized that the outlook for the economy will hinge on how the U.S. deals with the worst viral outbreak in more than a century. Federal-funds rates were held at a range between 0% and 0.25%, as expected, as Washington tries to hammer out an agreement on another round of financial aid to combat the economic harm from the coronavirus. The central bank increased its GDP forecast but didn't adjust its $120 billion asset purchases, as had been expected by some Fed watchers. "Together these measures will ensure that monetary policy will continue to deliver powerful support for the economy until the recovery is complete," Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said at a news conference after Wednesday's statement was released. "A big yawn," is how Michael Arone, chief investment strategist at State Street Global Advisors, described the policy update to MarketWatch, immediately after the release. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW:DJIA) closed down by about 44 points, or 0.2%, at around 30,155; the S&P 500 index (S&P:SPX) rose 0.2% to 3,701, just shy of its Dec. 8 closing record at 3,702.25' while the Nasdaq Composite Index (NASDAQ:COMP) booked a 0.5% rise to a record close at about 12,658. In economic reports, a retail sales report showed that the economy may be slowing as coronavirus cases surge. U.S. retail sales dropped a seasonally adjusted 1.1% in November from the prior month. The data and Fed update come as congressional lawmakers were hammering out a roughly $900 billion deal that was expected to include another round of direct payments to households, The Wall Street Journal reported. In corporate news, Shares of Facebook Inc. (NAS:FB) were in focus after it launched a PR assault against Apple Inc. (NAS:AAPL) claiming the iPhone maker's upcoming mobile operating system update will hurt small businesses. Bond yields also edged higher, with the 10-year Treasury note yielding 0.92%.
Dec. 16, 2020, 4:05 p.m. EST