By JOSHUA FREED
2013-12-13 11:42 PM
Stocks are mixed in early trading Friday after a three-day funk caused by worries that a Federal Reserve meeting next week will be the beginning of the end for generous monetary policies.
The Fed has been buying $85 billion per month in bonds to keep markets fluid and interest rates low, and the stimulus has sent investors into stocks as they seek higher returns. The big indexes are up 20 percent or more this year.
Guessing when the stimulus will end has become a parlor game for investors, who are stuck between betting that it will end soon, meaning stocks could decline, versus betting that it will continue, and bring the bull market along with it.
About 45 minutes after trading began, the Dow Jones industrial average was down eight points at 15,731. The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down a point at 1,773. The Nasdaq composite rose five points to 4,004.
All three are still down for the week despite strong reports on employment, housing, and retail spending. Investors have been worried that the stronger the Fed thinks the economy is, the more likely it is to remove its support.
Scott L. Wren, a senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, wrote in a note that the jobs and economic growth numbers have not been as strong as some investors believe. Job gains are only slightly above the long-term average. And third-quarter economic growth was driven by companies adding to inventory, not necessarily by customer demand.
"In other words, the shelves are now stocked to the rafters, and the chance of a surge in end-user demand seems low," Wren wrote.
Six out of 10 industries in the S&P 500 rose, led by consumer discretionary stocks.
Software maker Adobe Systems jumped 10 percent after subscription-based revenue rose. Adobe rose $5.26 to $59.25.
Anadarko Petroleum fell $7.16, or almost 9 percent, to $76.50 after a federal bankruptcy judge said it may be liable for between $5 billion and more than $14 billion in a legal battle over the spinoff of a paint materials company. The ruling isn't final.
Benchmark crude oil fell 82 cents to $96.70 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was unchanged at 2.88 percent.