Continued from page 1

Investors are still hoping to see other moves from the Fed to boost confidence. Australia’s central bank lowered interest rates by the largest amount since 1992 in a surprise move, and that reignited hopes that others, including the Fed and European Central Bank, might follow suit.

Though not giving the market a rate cut, the Fed has taken other steps to help unclog the credit markets. On Tuesday, policymakers provided more details about when it will make $900 billion in short-term loans available to squeezed banks.

The loans are made available to banks through auctions. The Fed, in coordination with other countries’ central banks engaged in similar efforts, laid out dates that it will conduct the auctions through the rest of this year.

“The Treasury stepping into the commercial paper market is good news,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist for Avalon Partners. “The Fed is doing everything they can to have confidence return to the markets, and maybe an interest rate cut is next. The central bank is doing what it should be doing as a lender of last resort.”

Traders might get a better idea of what central bankers are thinking when the Fed releases minutes from its Sept. 16 meeting at 2 p.m (1800 GMT). Policymakers, who will meet again at the end of the month, left key interest rate unchanged at 2 percent.

Some financial stocks fell sharply amid concerns about the possibility of further sizable write-downs. Morgan Stanley fell $5.49, or 24 percent, to $18.01, while Merrill Lynch & Co. fell $4.93, or 20 percent, to $19.27.

Technology stocks saw some support after chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. said it will spin off its manufacturing businesses into a new venture with Abu Dhabi-backed Advanced Technology Investment Co. AMD said the deal will dramatically cut costs and allow it to better compete with chief rival Intel Corp. AMD jumped 74 cents, or 18 percent, to $4.97. Intel slipped 14 cents to $16.79.

Wall Street is also looking for Alcoa Inc. to unofficially kick off earnings season when it releases results after the closing bell. Alcoa slipped 11 cents to $18.

Fed to buy massive amounts of short-term debts