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5/6/2004

Stocks mixed as investors weigh Fed statement on rates

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Wall Street, unable to shake a lethargy induced by interest rate worries, wobbled to a mixed finish Wednesday as investors shrugged off a $10.5 billion bank merger and a bullish upgrade of Dell Inc.
Those developments and a very upbeat reading of business activity in the services sector by the Institute for Supply Management helped keep shares afloat for most of the session, but persistent rate worries ultimately stifled the advance.
The Dow Jones industrial average shed 6.25, or 0.1 percent, to 10,310.95.
The broader gauges were modestly higher. The Nasdaq composite index added 6.78, or 0.4 percent, to 1,957.26. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed up 2.03, or 0.2 percent, at 1,121.58.
The market was still absorbing Tuesday’s statement from the Federal Reserve, which left interest rates unchanged but suggested the Fed was now inclined to push them higher in the months ahead as the economy continues to improve. Analysts said trading was likely to remain volatile as the market further digests the Fed’s revised position, along with other concerns that have overshadowed generally strong economic data and corporate earnings.
The next market-moving data will be released Friday, with the Labor Department’s April jobs report. Economists are forecasting an increase of 165,000 non-farm payroll jobs. But last month’s surprise of 308,000 new jobs has many second-guessing those estimates.