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U.S. stocks were little changed as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke damped speculation about additional stimulus, offsetting better-than-estimated economic data.
Stocks fell as Bernanke gave no signal that further policy easing is under consideration. While describing “positive developments” in the labor market, “the job market remains far from normal,” Bernanke said during the first day of his semi- annual monetary policy report to Congress. He said a recent increase in gasoline prices “is likely to push up inflation temporarily while reducing consumers’ purchasing power.”
Earlier today, stocks gained as data showed the U.S. economy expanded more than forecast in the fourth quarter and business activity accelerated. Benchmark gauges also rallied earlier as euro-area banks tapped the European Central Bank for a record amount of three-year cash in an operation that may boost bond and equity markets.
Dow 12,993.12 -12.00 -0.09%, Nasdaq 2,983.05 -3.71 -0.12%, S&P 500 1,370.87 -1.31 -0.10%Raw material and energy shares retreated as the S&P GSCI Index of commodities lost 0.7 percent, falling a third day. Newmont Mining slid 3.7 percent to $59.71. Alcoa Inc. declined 1 percent to $10.27. Halliburton Co. lost 1.4 percent to $37.17.
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