- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NEW YORK — Stocks ended mixed but little changed Tuesday, one day after a sell-off, as investors held off making big moves while they waited for news from the Federal Reserve.

According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 16.10, or 0.2 percent, to 8,322.91. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 2.06, or 0.2 percent, to 895.10, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 1.27, or 0.1 percent, to 1,764.92.

Traders are looking for the central bank to outline its expectations for the economy and signal when it might raise interest rates following a two-day meeting that ends Wednesday.

Stocks often shuttle around in a narrow range when investors are waiting for the Fed to weigh in on the economy.

There was little reaction to a report from the National Association of Realtors that May sales of existing homes rose 2.4 percent. The increase was smaller than economists’ forecasts of 2.8 percent and not enough to alleviate investors’ anxiety about economic reports later in the week on durable-goods orders, new-home sales and personal spending.

“There’s not a lot of conviction on behalf of buyers,” said Jim Herrick, manager of equity trading at Baird & Co.

“The market has priced in good second-quarter earnings, and priced in the economy moving out of recession by the fourth quarter,” Mr. Herrick said. “If you see any data that refutes that, the market will head lower.”

The Fed is widely expected to keep its key interest rate near zero, but investors are unsure how optimistic the policymakers will be in their economic assessment and whether the central bank will consider raising rates later this year to curb inflation.

Meanwhile, the Treasury Department plans to auction $104 billion in government debt this week. The Treasury sold $40 billion in debt Tuesday afternoon, and demand was strong. Investors have been on edge during such auctions because any signs that demand for government debt is waning could hit the market.

Treasury demand needs to stay strong for the government to finance its bailout and stimulus programs without significantly raising yields. Bond yields affect borrowing rates for consumers.

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