The broad indices ended mixed as investors looked ahead to the two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, which begins Tuesday. The FOMC will release its statement on Federal Reserve policy Wednesday afternoon. Following the previous FOMC meeting in September, the committee surprised many economists and investors by deciding to make no change in the central bank's "QE3" stimulus policy, which includes net month purchases of $85 billion in long-term bonds.
The bond purchases have continued since last September. Following the partial shutdown of the federal government during the first half of October and in light of conflicting economic reports, most economists now expect the Fed to wait until 2014 to begin tapering bond the bond purchases that are meant to hold-down long-term interest rates.
Last week the Department of Labor said that the U.S. unemployment rate improved slightly to 7.2% in September from 7.3% in August. "
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