Stocks Lose Steam After Fed Statement

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks lost steam after the Federal Open Market Committee's statement on Federal Reserve policy offset an early boost from strong economic data.

The FOMCsaid it expects economic growth to pick up in the second half of the year, but said inflation has come in below its targeted expectations. Investors may have been discouraged by a change in the committee's language from its previous statement in June: "The Committee recognizes that inflation persistently below its 2 percent objective could pose risks to economic performance, but it anticipates that inflation will move back toward its objective over the medium term."

The S&P 500 was little changed at 1,685.73 while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.14% to 15,499.54. The Nasdaq closed up 0.27% to 3,626.37.

A raft of upbeat economic data was unleashed throughout the morning. Investors embraced stronger-than-expected reports on U.S. economic growth and the labor market against signs of rising wage inflation as Chicago area business conditions looked to have experienced modest improvements.

The private payroll employment report from Automatic Data Processing on Thursday showed a stronger-than-expected gain of 200,000 for July versus an upwardly-revised 198,000 in June. Expectations were for a gain of 180,000 for July, according to a Thomson Reuters poll of economists.

The advanced estimate for second-quarter gross domestic product rose by a greater-than-expected 1.7% after a downwardly-revised 1.1% increase in the first quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Economists were expecting a rise by 1% for the second quarter. Revisions to data going back to 1929 showed a slightly higher overall growth rate for the economy.

Symantec ( SYMC ) reached a new 52-week high and was the top S&P performer after the software maker edged past Wall Street's estimates in its first-quarter results, released after the close of trading on Tuesday, boosted by strength in its security and backup businesses. Shares added 9.6% to $26.68.

Garmin ( GRMN ) surged 7.6% to $40.08 after the navigation devices provider beat second-quarter earnings estimates by 11 cents at 76 cents a share and booked revenue that also blew past expectations as the company's outdoor, fitness, aviation and marine segments grew 8% over the year-ago quarter.

ONEOK ( OKE) added 2.2% to $52.95 after the energy company affirmed its 2013 earnings guidance and three-year financial forecasts. This, after the company posted second-quarter earnings of 34 cents a share, beating estimates by 8 cents, according to a survey of analysts by Thomson Reuters. Revenue also exceeded expectations in the quarter as the company logged much higher volumes of natural gas volumes and natural gas liquids.

Comcast ( CMCSA) gained 5.6% to $45.08 after the cable giant added 187,000 broadband subscribers in the second-quarter as sales and profits beat analyst forecasts..

The Chicago Purchasing Manager Index showed a smaller than expected, but still modest improvement in business conditions in the Chicago area with a rise to 52.3 in July following a fall to 51.6 in June. An increase to 54 was expected.

Wage inflation pressures increased in the second quarter, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The employment cost index increased more than expected with a 0.5% rise for the second quarter, up from a 0.3% gain in the first quarter. Economists were expecting an increase of 0.4%.

The July Chicago Purchasing Manager Index at 9:45 a.m. is forecast to show a rise to 54 after falling to 51.6 in June.

The policy-making arm of the Federal Reserve, the Federal Open Market Committee, announces the results of its July 30 to July 31 policy meeting at 2 p.m.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury was gaining 7/32, diluting the yield to 2.588%.

Written by Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York

>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Andrea Tse.>

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