Wall Street's ups and downs continued today, but the market decided to move higher on the latest word from the Federal Reserve. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was up 0.94% near the end of trading and everything from oil to gold was on the rise.
The release of minutes from the Fed's March policy meeting gave the markets a little more clarity on what the central bank is thinking. Federal Reserve officials determined during a secret video conference in early March, before the formal meeting, that the 6.5% unemployment rate at which the Fed said interest rates could start to rise was outdated. There was also discussion about the market reading too much into forecasts for interest rates, which were projected to rise to 2..25% by 2016, according to a so-called "dot plot."
The minutes just reinforced that interest rates will be extremely low for the foreseeable future. The markets always like to hear that over the short term, even if it means economic growth and employment will remain weak for an extended period, which is bad over the long term.
Procter & Gamble gets out of dog food
The big news of the day on the Dow was Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG) selling its pet food business to Mars, Inc. Mars will buy the Iams, Eukanuba, and Natura brands for $2.9 billion and pair them with its brands, including Pedigree, Whiskas, Banfield, and Royal Canin.
From Procter & Gamble, the move is part of a larger strategic shift to focus on its core consumer products businesses . It previously sold off the Pringles brand to Kellogg's.
The $2.9 billion sale is just over 1% of Procter & Gamble's total market value, so this isn't an earth-shattering move, but it focuses management, development, and sales on a more concentrated line of products. Long term, management thinks that will generate higher returns for shareholders.