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The Federal Reserve took an in-between course with its announcement today, in some ways disappointing investors on both ends of the spectrum. Those who believe that the economy is slowing down wanted further action from the Fed to stimulate economic growth, while those who believe that the Fed should stop manipulating the bond market were upset with its decision to extend its Operation Twist program. The net impact on the stock market, though, was somewhat negative, with the Dow Jones Industrials (INDEX: ^DJI ) starting to fall significantly after the Fed's press conference.
Most stocks saw a zigzag pattern, with an initial drop after the announcement, followed by a substantial gain that then slowly eroded throughout the afternoon. But at least as of 3 p.m. EDT, a few stocks remain somewhat higher than they were before the Fed decision. General Electric (NYSE: GE ) moved from being slightly down to rising almost half a percent. GE's unique perspective as a conglomerate that includes both industrial and financial operations gives it two ways to profit from easy monetary policy: credit-related profits and cheaper borrowing rates to finance its core businesses.
Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) extended earlier gains after the decision, rising more than 1.5% in late trade. Microsoft's recent announcement that it's entering the tablet market has raised concerns about the move potentially upsetting PC makers like HP; it's hard to imagine that HP could turn to an alternative vendor for operating systems and other software in segments that Microsoft dominates. Regardless, HP's best prospects lie beyond hardware, as markets like enterprise software gain traction. Easy Fed policy makes it easier for HP to invest in projects to diversify its business -- a key aspect of CEO Meg Whitman's proposed turnaround plans.
Finally, JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM ) earned some additional gains after the Fed's move, extending its rise for the day to almost 3%. But given that Bank of America (NYSE: BAC ) didn't see similar moves, it makes more sense to attribute JPMorgan's move to its reported success in getting out of its hedge position that cost the bank billions. Financials still have a long way to go, but continued easy money should help them maintain decent profits and support their overall operations.
Let's move on
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