Major indexes hovered cautiously around their starting points, as a Washington meeting between Ben Bernanke, Chris Dodd and Hank Paulson allayed traders' concerns that an academic Fed is callous to Wall Street's ongoing credit crunch. Winners outnumbered losers 3 to 2, but the Dow was off 30.49 to close at 13,090.86.
Beleaguered mortgage-broker Countrywide jumped on rumors that Warren Buffett may buy shares, while crude slipped $1.65 to $69.47 after Dean proved less disruptive than expected to oil shipments. Tech was strong across the board, but finance led the charge: The Nasdaq climbed 12.71 to 2521.30, and the S&P hopped 1.57 to 1447.12. The Washington meeting confirmed the Fed's zealous protection of interest rates, which may deter traders even after four consecutive days of meager gains.