- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 25, 2009

NEW YORK | A disappointing report on consumer confidence and a soberer read on the economy pulled stocks from 13-month highs Tuesday.

Major indexes posted modest losses in light trading as drops in financial and industrial stocks were tempered by gains in health care companies. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 17 points a day after jumping by 133.

Stocks pulled off their lows of the day after the Federal Reserve released minutes from its latest rate-setting meeting, during which it pledged to keep rates low for the foreseeable future and said inflation remained at bay. The Fed raised its expectations for economic growth during the second half of this year but said unemployment will remain high.

Stocks had been falling before the report after the government revised its calculation of third-quarter economic growth down to 2.8 percent from its original estimate of 3.5 percent, the latest sign that the recovery is likely to be slow and bumpy.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index rose to 49.5 in November from a revised reading of 48.7 in October. While better than expected, the report shows that consumers remain gloomy heading into the holiday season. A reading above 90 means the economy is on solid footing.

The market’s modest moves came after a big rally on Monday carried the Dow Jones industrials up 133 points to their highest level in just over a year. A weakening dollar and an upbeat report on housing lured investors back into stocks after a three-day losing streak.

The Dow fell 17.24, or 0.2 percent, to 10,433.71. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.59, or 0.1 percent, to 1,105.65, while the Nasdaq Composite Index fell 6.83, or 0.3 percent, to 2,169.18.

Among health care stocks, Medtronic Inc. jumped more than 6 percent after the medical device maker reported a surprising 59 percent increase in its quarterly profit and raised its full-year outlook in part because of strong sales of its implantable heart devices. Shares gained $2.94 to $43.25.

Bond prices rose after a strong auction of five-year notes. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 3.32 percent from 3.36 percent late Monday. The yield on the five-month note dropped to 2.10 percent from 2.18 percent.

In other trading, the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 2.23, or 0.4 percent, to 592.58.

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