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Merck, Procter & Gamble Fall as Market Shrugs Off Taper Fears

NEW YORK (TheStreet) --Major U.S. stock averages closed little changed on Wednesday as a better-than-anticipated jobs report and a jump in October home purchases that triggered concerns the Federal Reserve may begin tapering its bond buying stimulus measures later this month.

  • The S&P 500 lost 0.13% to 1,792.81, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.16% to 15,889.77, and the Nasdaq closed up 0.02% to 4,038.
  • The Fed's Beige Book on anecdotal reports of economic conditions across the 12 Fed districts said there was "modest to moderate growth with stronger manufacturing" from early October to mid-November. Price pressures remained in check, freight volumes showed signs of strengthening and the tone on retail spending was also encouraging. "There appears no denying from the broad thrust of the report that the economy is in robust form," Miller Tabak chief economic strategist Andrew Wilkinson inferred in a note from New York.
  • Economic activity in the non-manufacturing sector grew in November for the 47th consecutive month, though at a slower clip, according to the Institute for Supply Management's November Services sector report. The non-manufacturing index decreased 1.5 percentage points 53.9%, missing the average estimate of 55%, according to a Reuters survey of economists.The employment index part of the report indicated growth for the 16th straight month though at a slower rate.
  • U.S. private employers created 215,000 jobs in November, according to payroll processor Automatic Data Processing. That beat the average economist estimate of 173,000 jobs, according to a survey of economists by Thomson Reuters.
  • The U.S. trade gap dropped 5.4% to $40.6 billion in October with exports swelling to record high levels, the Commerce Department reported. The data signaled a heating up of global demand that could bolster fourth quarter U.S. growth.
  • New U.S. home purchases jumped by the most in more than 33 years in October, up 25.4% to an annualized rate of 444,000, as home buyers looked to be adapting to higher mortgage rates.
  • Merck & Co (MRK - Get Report) and Procter & Gamble (PG - Get Report) were two losers in the Dow, shedding 0.94% and 0.49% respectively. Nitrogen-fertilizer maker CF Industries (CF) jumped 10.7% the biggest gainer in the S&P 500. The company is in discussions with financial advisers to assess a master-limited partnership and other financial options. U.S. Bancorp (USB) is a bank winner Wednesday after being added to Goldman Sachs' "conviction list." Shares of U.S. Bancorp closed up 1.3% to $39. Teradata (TDC) finished as the worst performer in the S&P after Morgan Stanley (MS) cut its rating of the company to "underweight" with a price target of $36. Shares of the big data tech company dropped 6.2% to close at $42.53.

-Written by Andrea Tse, Jane Searle and Joe Deaux in New York

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Chart of I:DJI
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