The Rally That Wasn't: Stocks End Mixed

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Thanks to a nice late-session pop, the blue-chip

Dow Jones Industrial Average

closed sharply higher, vastly outpacing the rest of the market's major barometers ahead of tomorrow's much-anticipated

Federal Open Market Committee

meeting.

The Dow ended up 80.07, or 1%, to 8108.84, while the

S&P 500

rose 3.94, or 0.4%, to 1048.69. The

Nasdaq Composite Index

, however, fell 4.38, or 0.3%, to 1739.21, while the small-cap

Russell 2000

dropped 1.01, or 0.3%, to 368.01.

Meanwhile, the 30-year Treasury bond was recently down 13/32 to 105 10/32, yielding 5.15%.

Hopes of a cut in the federal funds target rate fueled much of the day's gains.

Around 2 p.m. EDT the Dow began losing a lot of its steam, and around 3 p.m. it was up just 46. Roughly around 3:30, the Dow began its late-day spurt higher.

Meanwhile, shortly before 3 p.m., the Nasdaq Composite and the Russell 2000 dipped into negative territory and never got above water.

On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,763 advancers led 1,274 decliners on 686.4 million shares.

Nasdaq Stock Market

losers beat winners 2,086 to 1,966 on 696.8 million shares.

On the NYSE, 127 issues hit new 52-week lows while 39 hit new highs. On the Nasdaq, 165 issues were at new lows while new highs totaled 39.

On the Big Board,

Unicom

(UCM)

was the most heavily traded stock, with 13.4 million shares changing hands. The stock rose 7/16 to 36 7/8.

On the Nasdaq,

Dell

(DELL) - Get Report

was the most active issue, with 26.7 million shares changing hands. Dell closed up 1 15/16 to 68 1/16.

This afternoon,

American Express

(AXP) - Get Report

announced a stock repurchase plan of up to 40 million additional shares over the next two to three years, a continuation of its ongoing share buyback program. American Express closed up 2 1/2 to 83.

Market data above are preliminary. Updated numbers and analysis will follow in the Market Roundup

.