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Wall Street retreats amid speculation about Fed's exit from QE


10:09, May 21, 2013

Wall Street went down in choppy trading Monday after the market's record runs last week, as investors took a breather amid growing concerns that the US Federal Reserve may taper its bond buying programs earlier than expected.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor's 500- stock Index hit fresh highs briefly before retreating in the afternoon trading. The blue-chip Dow lost 18.74 points, or 0.12 percent, to close at 15,335.66 points. The broader S&P 500 went down 1.18 points, or 0.07 percent, to end at 1,666.29 points.

The Nasdaq Composite Index broke the key psychological level of 3,500 points before falling 0.07 percent to finish at 3,496.43 points.

The US stocks opened lower in the session, as the market was looking for direction with a lack of economic data.

Major stock indices ended last week on a positive note for the fourth week in a row, with the Dow and S&P 500 refreshing all-time highs.

After Monday's weak opening, the market regained momentum on broad gains in Asian and European stocks.

However, the equity market dipped again after Chicago Fed President Charles Evans, a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, the policy-setting arm of the Fed, this year, expressed optimism over the US economy in the afternoon, raising concerns that he would support tapering quantitative easing policy in advance.

The US central bank's massive asset purchases were considered the main driver of market rally.

Meanwhile, Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher told CNBC on Monday morning that the Fed could only slow its pace of purchasing mortgage-backed securities instead of making an abrupt stop.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is also closely watched for his scheduled testimony before Congress on the US economic outlook Wednesday, which may give some hints about the Fed's exit strategy.

In economic data, the Chicago Fed National Activity Index dropped to minus 0.53 in April from minus 0.23 in March, mainly due to declines in production-related indicators.

The CBOE Volatility Index, considered the fear gauge of Wall Street, jumped 4.58 percent to 13.02.

The board of Yahoo Inc. has reportedly approved a 1.1-billion- dollar buyout of Tumblr, a blogging and social networking platform. Yahoo shares edged up 0.23 percent to 26.58 dollars apiece.

Pharmaceutical company Actavis announced Monday that it would acquire Warner Chilcott in a stock-for-stock transaction valued at approximately 8.5 billion dollars. Actavis shares gained 1.31 percent to 127.15 dollars and Warner Chilcott shares rose 2.03 percent to 19.60 dollars.

In other markets, light, sweet crude for June delivery gained 69 cents, or 0.72 percent, to settle at 96.71 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday. Brent for July delivery went up 16 cents, to close at 104.80 dollars a barrel.

Gold future for June delivery on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rallied 19.4 dollars, or 1.42 percent, to settle at 1,384.1 dollars per ounce on short covering Monday, snapping a seven-session losing streak.

The US dollar retreated against major currencies Monday after scoring major gains on improved US consumer confidence in the previous session.

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