The stock market turned higher Tuesday as investors banked on continued policy support from the Federal Reserve. Two big retailers also topped Wall Street's expectations for the most recent quarter.
Nobody ever said reading the Federal Reserve was easy. On Wednesday, the Fed appeared to suggest it was closer to taking additional steps to help the U.S. economy. Stocks rallied as a result and finished the day well off their lows. But the prospect of Fed help seemed much less certain Thursday, and stocks fell.
The dramatic economic slowdown this summer has provoked an increasingly contentious debate among analysts, including an unusually public split among members of the Federal Reserve Board, over the U.S. economy's long-term outlook and the possibility of a Japan-like "lost decade."