The Fed Extends Its Aid, but Stocks Trade Flat -- Why the Fed Couldn't Lift the Markets Today

After a month where bad news seemingly poured in from every corner of the world, investors limped into this afternoon looking for signs of reassurance from the Federal Reserve meeting. What they got was a mixed bag.

Leaving its QE3 gun resting squarely in its holders, the Fed instead opted to take a more staid approach, announcing plans to continue with its Operation Twist through at least the end of the year. Operation Twist, in which it buys long-time-horizon Treasury bonds and sells short-term Treasury bills, is aimed to drive down long-term interest rates and kickstart what's becoming an increasingly moribund recovery. The Fed also firmly stated that it's prepared to break out its monetary bazooka should it deem such action necessary further down the road.

Thanks, but no, thanks
Stocks moved sharply south in their initial reaction, only to regain composure and end largely where we saw them going into the Fed meeting -- flat. Looking at the tape, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI  ) shed 13 points today, a 0.1% loss. Likewise, the S&P 500 fell 0.2%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.02%. Across the board, it doesn't get much flatter than that, folks. After spiking sharply higher leading into the Fed's meeting, the market's "fear gauge," or the VIX (INDEX: ^VIX  ) , ended the day abruptly lower, declining more than 6% by day's end. Among other major storylines effecting individual stocks:

  • Shares of consumer-goods conglomerate Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) tumbled 3% as the company lowered guidance for its current quarter. Equally dismal, the company also reduced its estimates for its current fiscal year as well as a result of weakening consumer demand and adverse foreign exchange rates.
  • Arena Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: ARNA  ) rose 8.3% ahead of a ruling on its diet drug lorcaserin. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to disclose its decision by June 27. The stock is up more than 400% since the start of the year.
  • Shares of Molycorp (NYSE: MCP  ) surged more than 10% only to settle 8% higher on the day. News today broke that China held lower amounts of rare-earth material than originally thought, which of course implies demand from commodity companies like Molycorp.

The road ahead
The key takeaway from today's announcement is that the Fed showed it's committed to keeping America's recovery rolling. That's just one reason that, despite potential headwinds, the future will indeed be made in America. Count on it. In fact, the Fool details one stock poised to win big time in our new research report, which you can grab by clicking here today.

Andrew Tonner held no financial position in any of the companies mentioned in this article. You can follow Andrew and all his writing on Twitter at @AndrewTonner.

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Procter & Gamble. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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