Created on Wednesday, 30 October 2013 Written by KEN SWEET, AP Markets Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged lower on Wall Street Wednesday as investors waited to hear what the Federal Reserve will say about the future of its massive economic stimulus program.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 13 points, or 0.1 percent, to 15,667 as of 12:15 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,768 and the Nasdaq composite index fell 13 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,939.
The central bank will release its latest policy statement at 2 p.m. Eastern. Investors expect that the Fed will not make any changes to its economic stimulus program and keep its benchmark short-term interest rate near zero.
The Fed had been expected to cut back on its bond-buying program last month. However, after much debate, Fed officials decided to keep the economic stimulus program in place.
"The market was prepared for the Fed to start pulling back in September, and I think the Fed missed its opportunity," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank.
Since the Fed's last meeting, 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, economists say it's unlikely the Fed would make any changes to its stimulus program until early next year.
Ablin said he hopes that the Fed will use Wednesday's policy statement to prepare investors for a stimulus pullback in the coming months.
In other economic news, the Labor Department said consumer prices rose just 0.2 percent in September, a sign that inflation remains under control. Meanwhile, the payroll processing company Automatic Data Processing said private employers created 130,000 jobs in October, fewer than the 151,000 jobs economists expected.
The benign inflation reading and the mediocre ADP jobs report may give the Fed greater more reasons to extend its stimulus program.
October has been a big month for the stock market. With just two days of trading left, the S&P 500 is up 5.4 percent, putting the index on track for its best month since October 2011.
Investors also had another dose of quarterly earnings to work through.
General Motors rose $1.34, or 3.3 percent, to $37.26. 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 $2.38, or 13 percent, to $16.86. The money transfer company said late Wednesday 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.