NEW YORK — Stocks were at their lows of the day late todayas investors reacted to the latest announcement from the Federal Reserve, which said the economy would continue to need help from its stimulus program.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 73 points, or 0.5 percent, to 15,608 as of 2:20 p.m. Eastern time. It was down about 30 points shortly before the Fed’s announcement came out at 2 p.m.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 10 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,762 and the Nasdaq composite index fell 25 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,927.
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In its latest policy statement, the nation’s central bank said it will continue its $85 billion a month bond-buying program and would keep its benchmark short-term interest rate near zero. The bond purchases are designed to keep borrowing costs low for consumers and businesses, thereby stimulating the economy.
The decision was widely expected by investors. Since the Fed’s last meeting in September, the economy suffered a blow because of the 16-day partial shutdown of the U.S. government and the near-breach of the nation’s borrowing limit.
As a result, it was thought it would be highly unlikely the Fed would make any changes to its stimulus program until early next year, after there was more evidence that the U.S. could grow without the central bank’s help.
The next time the Fed will revisit its bond-buying program will be at its mid-December meeting.
October has been a big month for the stock market. With just two days of trading left, the S&P 500 is up 4.5 percent, putting the index on track for its best month since July.
Investors also had another dose of quarterly earnings to work through.
General Motors rose 99 cents or 3 percent, to $37.05. After taking out one-time effects, the nation’s largest automaker earned $1.7 billion, or 96 cents per share, beat analysts’ expectations of 94 cents per share.
Western Union plunged $2.48, or 13 percent, to $16.76. The money transfer company said late today that it may not see any profit growth in 2014 due to increasing regulation and compliance costs.
Starbucks, Visa and Facebook report their own quarterly results after the close of trading.