Fed Meeting Sends Stocks on a RollerCoaster Ride

The stock market is slightly higher today, but it has given up most of the day's gains in reaction to the Fed press conference that is taking place as I write. In short, the Fed will continue continue to buy bonds to stimulate the economy and will keep short-term rates near zero for the foreseeable future. The Fed also said it doesn't see unemployment falling below 6.5% until 2015, which isn't a great outlook for the economy.

Chairman Ben Bernanke did point out that the fiscal-cliff negotiations taking place in Washington DC will have an impact on policy and projections going forward. He gave a calm but stern warning that the White House and Congress should just get a deal done.

As of 3:20 p.m. EST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI  ) has gained 0.11% on the day, while the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC  ) is up 0.19%. Both are off the highs they reached just after the initial Fed announcement.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) is up 2.5% today, continuing its volatile daily moves. The company won a bid to provide 1.5 million laptops to students in India -- a large volume even for HP. CEO Meg Whitman also got a big endorsement from tech titan and HP board member Marc Andreessen. He has been a part of some of the largest tech start-ups in history, so his opinion is nothing to sneeze at.

3M (NYSE: MMM  ) was one of the few stocks that declined in trading today, falling 0.5%. CEO Inge Thulin said he expected to spend $1 billion to $2 billion on acquisitions next year, targeting larger deals than in the past. He also said earnings were expected to be between $6.70 and $6.95, which left the midpoint of expectations a penny and a half below current estimates. 

With more than 50,000 products, 3M plays a role in making everything from computers to power cables. A long history of invention and innovation has driven the company to its wide reach, but a focus on operational efficiency may be hurting the creative culture that once created Scotch Tape and the Post-It Note. A new leader has taken over, vowing to restore innovation to the forefront. Does this mean the stock will become more than a dividend, returning to its former glory as a growth stock once again? Find out whether 3M has what it takes to pull it off in The Motley Fool's comprehensive new research report on the company. As an added bonus, you'll receive a full year of key updates and guidance as news develops, so don't miss out -- simply click here now to claim your copy.


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