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Stocks end nearly flat after Fed’s interest rate decision

Major U.S. stock indexes ended nearly flat Wednesday after the Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate for a second time this year, citing slowing global economic growth and uncertainty over U.S. trade conflicts.

Gains by banks, utilities and technology companies outweighed losses elsewhere in the market, which had been broadly lower until the last hour of trading. Bond yields moved down.

Stocks initially declined after the central bank announced the widely expected interest rate cut. The Fed’s policy statement did not indicate whether more rate cuts were likely this year, though it left the door open for additional rate cuts if the economy weakens.

“We’re not on a preset course,” Fed Chairman Jerome H. Powell said at a news conference.

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Diverging opinions among the members of the Fed’s policymaking committee left some investors feeling uneasy about what the central bank may do next.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index inched up 1.03 points, or less than 0.1%, to 3,006.73. The benchmark index is now within 0.7% of the all-time high it set in July.

The Dow Jones industrial average rebounded after being down most of the day, ending with a gain of 36.28 points, or 0.1%, at 27,147.08. The Nasdaq slipped 8.62 points, or 0.1%, to 8,177.39.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks bore the brunt of the selling, falling 9.95 points, or 0.6%, to 1,568.34.

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The broader market has been wobbling this week and so far is on track for a slight weekly loss after three consecutive weeks of gains. Those gains came as both sides in the U.S.-China trade war took steps to ease tensions ahead of planned negotiations in October.

The volatility has been taking a toll. The S&P 500 is eking out modest gains of 2.2% for the quarter, with just a few weeks left. That marks a pullback from gains of 3.8% in the second quarter and a notable deceleration from the 13.1% rise during the first quarter.

Bond prices rose Wednesday, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.80% from 1.81%. Investors typically shift money into bonds when they grow more concerned about the economy’s health.

Financial stocks recovered from an early slide. JPMorgan rose 1%. Citigroup rose 0.9%.

A disappointing drop in quarterly profit weighed on FedEx shares, which tumbled 12.9%, making the stock the biggest decliner in the S&P 500. The package delivery giant also cut its full-year forecast.

Adobe fell 1.8% after giving investors a weak profit forecast.

Chewy slid 6.1% to $28.39 after the online pet store posted a quarterly loss that was far wider than Wall Street expected. The company debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in June at $22 a share and closed at $34.99 on its first day.

Oil prices continued pulling back from Monday’s 14% spike as Saudi Arabia brings back production at an oil facility attacked over the weekend. Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.23 to settle at $58.11 a barrel. Brent crude, the international standard, fell 95 cents to close at $63.60 a barrel.

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Wholesale gasoline fell 2 cents to $1.66 a gallon. Heating oil fell 2 cents to $1.97 a gallon. Natural gas fell 3 cents to $2.64 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold rose $2.40 to $1,507.50 an ounce. Silver fell 22 cents to $17.80 an ounce. Copper fell 1 cent to $2.60 a pound.


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