Closing Update: Stocks Fail to Maintain Brief Stay in Positive Territory, Extending Longest Market Decline in 13 Months

A post-FOMC minutes rally fizzled shortly before the closing bell, dragging stocks to their longest slump in 13 months. The markets briefly turned positive in a reversal from the initial decline that followed release of minutes from the July Federal Open Markets Committee meeting showing members were "broadly comfortable" with plans to reduce the central bank's bond-buying program later this year if conditions warrant. Earlier technology stocks were trading slightly higher along with shares of home-builder companies after new data showed a larger-than-expected rise in existing home sales.

"Almost all committee members agreed that a change in the purchase program was not yet appropriate," according to minutes of the July 30-31 policy-setting meeting. "A few members emphasized the importance of being patient and evaluating additional information on the economy before deciding on any changes to the pace of asset purchases.

"Almost all participants confirmed that they were broadly comfortable" with the committee moderating "the pace of its securities purchases later this year," the minutes showed.

Earlier, new economic data provided the Fed with more ammunition to begin their tapering, with the National Association of Realtors saying sales of previously owned homes jumped 6.5% during July from the prior month to an annual rate of 5.39 million sales. That beat the consensus view looking for a 1.3% increase and a 5.15 million annualized pace. Single-family home sales grew 13.7%.

Commodities were mixed. Crude oil for October delivery fell $1.26 to settle at $103.85 per barrel. September natural gas was up 2 cents at $3.46 per 1 million BTU. December gold fell $2.30 to $1370 per ounce while September silver was down 8 cents to $22.97 per ounce. September copper fell 3 cents to $3.31 per pound.

Here's where the U.S. markets stood at end of day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 105.44 (-0.70%) to 14,897.55

S&P 500 down 9.55 (-0.58%) to 1,642.80

Nasdaq Composite Index down 13.80 (-0.38%) to 3,599.79


Hang Seng Index down 0.69%

Shanghai China Composite up 0.02%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.97%


(+) LOW, Reports 26% gain in Q2 earnings, beating estimates by $0.10.

(+) INCY, Reports "significant benefits" from its new pancreatic cancer drug.

(+) VE, Morgan Stanley adds the environmental-services company to its "Best Ideas" list


(-) TGT, Discount retailer reports 13% drop in Q2 profit.

(-) SPLS, Misses earnings estimates by $0.02 per share and lowers FY13 guidance.

(-) AEO, Q2 profit improves 3%, but Q3 EPS guidance of only $0.14 to $0.16 trails estimates by at least $0.19 per share.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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