US stocks end mixed after Fed decision

New York, Sep 18 (IANS) The US stocks closed mixed on Thursday, as the Federal Reserve kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged after a two-day monetary policy meeting.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 65.21 points, or 0.39 percent, to 16,674.74. The S&P 500 lost 5.11 points, or 0.26 percent, to 1,990.20. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 4.71 points, or 0.10 percent, to 4,893.95, Xinhua news agency reported.

According to the Fed statement released after the policy meeting, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will assess both realized and expected progress toward its objective of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation in its consideration of when to raise the benchmark interest rate.

Fed officials expected the recent global financial market volatility and slower global growth will further put downward pressure on inflation level, while the US economic outlook remains stable.

Most Fed officials still expect a first rate increase this year, Fed Chair Janet Yellen said at the press conference Thursday, noting that 13 out of 17 Federal Reserve Board members and Federal Reserve Bank presidents are looking for a move in 2015.

She reiterated that market should pay less attention to the timing of the first interest rate hike and more attention to the expected path of rates.

“The stance of monetary policy will likely remain highly accommodative for quite some time after the initial increase in the federal funds rate,” said Yellen.

On the economic front, in the week ending September 12, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims fell 11,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level to 264,000, below market consensus of 275,000, the US Labour Department said Thursday.

The four-week moving average was 272,500, a decrease of 3,250 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 275,750.

Meanwhile, the US privately-owned housing starts in August were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,126,000, according to the Commerce Department Thursday. This is 3.0 percent below the revised July estimate of 1,161,000, but is 16.6 percent above the August 2014 rate of 966,000.

The CBOE Volatility Index, often referred to as Wall Street’s fear gauge, fell 0.98 percent to end at 21.14 Thursday.

In other markets, oil prices declined on Thursday as some traders took profits after the surge on Wednesday.

The West Texas Intermediate for October delivery moved down 25 cents to settle at $46.9 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for November delivery decreased 67 cents to close at $49.08 a barrel on the London ICE Future Exchange.

The US dollar dived against other major currencies on Thursday as the Fed kept the interest rates unchanged.

In late New York trading, the euro rose to $1.1405 from $1.1287 in the previous session, while the dollar bought 120.16 Japanese yen, lower than 120.62 yen of the previous session.

Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange settled slightly lower on Thursday, with the most active gold contract for December delivery lost 2 dollars, or 0.18 percent, to settle at $1,117 per ounce.

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