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Stocks Fall Ahead of Fed Announcement on Tapering

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock markets slipped Tuesday as Wall Street gauged possible outcomes of the two-day Federal Reserve policy meeting that concludes Wednesday with a decision on whether the central bank will scale back its economic stimulus program. 

  • The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.31% to 1,780.99, the Nasdaq took off 0.14% to 4,023.68 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.06% to 15,875.13.
  • The November consumer price index arrived flat Tuesday and the core CPI was up 0.2%. This evidence of tame inflation reinforces views that modest Fed tapering will start in January or March rather than December. 
  • "There truly is no consensus view on when the Fed acts, although most seem to believe that a reduction in purchases does start by March," wrote economist Stephen Guilfoyle in a report.
  • The Federal Open Market Committee meeting is scheduled to issue a policy statement, and Chairman Ben Bernanke will follow it with his final press conference as head of the central bank.
  • A two-year U.S. budget deal received a favorable vote in the Senate on Tuesday, clearing the way for its approval in the Democrat-majority chamber later in the week. The deal will likely keep the threat of a government shutdown at bay through to Oct. 1, 2015. 
  • S&P 500 Winner and Loser: Frontier Communications was the biggest percentage gainer in the S&P as shares climbed 8.6% to $4.78. Delta Air Lines booked the worst performance in the index, sliding 3.5% to $26.94
  • Boeing (BA - Get Report) climbed 0.86% to $135.88 on the company's announcement it would increase its stock buyback program by $10 billion and boost quarterly dividends by about 50% to 73 cents a share from 48.5 cents.
  • Facebook (FB - Get Report) popped 2% to $54.86 on the news it was testing out video advertisements. A Wall Street Journal expects the social network to begin selling space for video advertisements later in the week.
  • Comcast (CMCSA) is reportedly examining a deal with Time Warner Cable (TWC), one scenario which would involve a full takeover bid for the latter, according to a report from Reuters. Other options could include Comcast purchasing certain Time Warner markets. Comcast closed off 0.39% to $49.05 while Time Warner Cable was 0.71% higher to $133.03.
--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff and Joe Deaux in New York.

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