The S&P 500 ended barely changed on Thursday as optimism aboutChina’s interest-rate cut was offset by Federal Reserve ChairmanBen Bernanke’s comments that dimmed hopes for more U.S. stimulus. Both the Dow industrials and the Nasdaq ended off session highs,with the Dow rising modestly for the day and the Nasdaq slipping. Stocks lost ground following Bernanke’s comments a day afterexperiencing the best one-day rally so far this year. Over theprevious three days, the S&P 500 gained 2.9 percent, recoveringsome of May’s losses.
The surprising move by China’s central bank to cut its benchmarkinterest rate by 25 basis points helped ease worries aboutfaltering global demand. Speculation has been rising that central banks will take moreaction to combat escalating debt problems in Europe and slowerglobal growth. Bernanke, in testimony Thursday, said the Fed wasready to take action but gave no hint of imminent steps. His remarks were seen as offsetting more supportive comments fromother Fed members in the last 24 hours, but still leaving the dooropen for more action at the Fed’s next meeting on June 19-20. “Bernanke threw traders a curveball.
After his vice chair made itseem like QE was a foregone conclusion, he really messed people up.We tried to shake that off, but there was a lack of follow-throughand we lost momentum,” said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst withPFG Best in Chicago. The rate cut in China, the world’s No. 2 economy, helped lift thestocks of U.S. companies linked to China’s commodity-hungryindustrial complex. Ludacris Soul Headphones
An S&P index of industrial shares gained 0.6 percent and an S&Pmaterials index rose 0.2 percent. U.S. stocks jumped more than 2 percent on Wednesday, a third day ofgains for the S&P 500. The index has rebounded since hitting its200-day moving average, a key technical support level, last Friday. Sony MDR In Ear Headphones Manufacturer
The S&P 500 is still well off its highs for the year. While Europe was still very much in the spotlight, stocks showedlittle reaction to a downgrade by Fitch in Spain’s credit rating to’BBB’ with a negative outlook, just two notches away from junkstatus. Among the day’s decliners, shares of Navistar International Corp dropped 14.3 percent to $24.11 after it posted a second-quarterloss, due to a big charge for warranty costs to repair enginesbuilt in 2010 and 2011. The truck maker also cut its full-yearearnings outlook. Health insurer Molina Healthcare Inc recalled its 2012 earnings guidance, citing uncertaintiesregarding medical costs in Texas, pushing its stock down 31 percentto $17.77. Apple Earpods Headphones
On the Nasdaq, shares of Nvidia fell 4 percent to $11.89 after FBR cut its price target on thecompany. Volume was above average. About 7.16 billion shares changed handson the New York Stock Exchange, the Nasdaq and Amex, compared withthe year-to-date daily average of 6.85 billion shares. Decliners beat advancers on the NYSE by about 16 to 14.
On theNasdaq, about three stocks fell for every two that rose. (Additional reporting By Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Dave Zimmermanand Jan Paschal).