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Stocks Finish Mixed as Bernanke Wait Continues


NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Stocks closed mixed Tuesday as investors mostly stood pat ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech at the Jackson Hole, Wyo. global economic symposium this weekend.

It was another light volume session with the slow trading colored by several gloomy reports on the global economy and a weak reading on consumer confidence.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down nearly 22 points, or 0.17%, at 13,103. The blue-chip index, which has now lost ground in five of the past six sessions, ranged less than 70 points on the day.

Nineteen of the Dow's 30 components closed lower. The biggest percentage decliners were Bank of America (BAC), Caterpillar (CAT), Cisco (CSCO), and Hewlett-Packard (HPQ).

Bank of America's wealth-management unit plans to host a conference call Tuesday with Paulson & Co.'s John Paulson, allowing some of its financial advisers and their clients to question the struggling hedge fund chief, sources at the bank confirmed with Reuters. The stock closed down 1.4%.

Blue-chip gainers included Chevron (CVX), Exxon Mobil (XOM), and Intel (INTC).

The S&P 500 was dipped a little more than a point to settle at 1409.30. The Nasdaq added nearly 4 points, or 0.13%, to close at 3077.

The weakest sectors in the broad market were transportation, technology and capital goods, while consumer non-cyclicals, financials and services were pockets of strength.

Volumes totaled 2.61 billion on the New York Stock Exchange and 1.36 billion on the Nasdaq.

"The financial markets have another big event on the horizon, which is likely to keep trading relatively subdued," said Paul Donovan, global economist at UBS. "The economics holiday camp that is the Jackson Hole Symposium gets underway at the end of the week offers an opportunity for a more in depth, serious discussion of less conventional monetary policy."

"We do not expect Chairman Bernanke's speech on Friday morning, entitled 'Monetary Policy Since the Crisis,' to shed much additional light on the near-term tactics of monetary policy beyond last week's FOMC minutes," wrote economists at Goldman Sachs. "Instead, the main question is whether he breaks new ground regarding the Fed's longer-term strategy."

While Bernanke is expected to speak on Friday at Jackson Hole, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has decided not to attend the Jackson Hole summit because of the "heavy workload foreseen in the next few days," a spokesman said. This is now "fueling speculation" that "something may be brewing" for the ECB meeting on Sept. 6, noted RBS economists.
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