- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NEW YORK | Investors are holding off making big moves while they wait for the Federal Reserve.

Stocks ended mixed but little-changed Tuesday, one day after a selloff. Traders are looking for the central bank to outline its expectations for the economy and signal when it might raise interest rates after 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’ forecast for 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.

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.

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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