Stocks ended mixed but mostly down today as cautious investors digested bad economic news while the Fed met, presumably to discuss further rate cuts. "In many ways, the economy seems fundamentally weaker now" than during the last official recession in 2001, an economist told the Wall Street Journal. The Dow ended down 39.81 at 12,831.94, the Nasdaq up 1.70 at 2,426.10, and the S&P 500 down 5.43 at 1,390.94.
The Dow's drop came in part from a steep plunge by Merck, which fell after the FDA nixed one of its key drugs currently in production. Meanwhile, a decline in commodity prices walloped the S&P. Coupled with today's grim consumer confidence and home price reports, "the market is viewing this news as confirming a pretty punk economy," an asset manager told Bloomberg.