Stocks marked time today, settling into an eerie calm before next week’s nail-biter Fed decision on interest rates. Investors mulled conflicting consumer data: The University of Michigan/Reuters consumer-sentiment survey announced a rise to 83.8, but August retail growth was less than expected. The confusion amounted to modest gains for the Dow, up 0.13%, and miniscule boosts for the Nasdaq and S&P, each up less than 0.3%.
Even small gains represented a rally after an early sell-off sparked by UK mortgage lender Northern Rock’s dip into the Bank of England for emergency funding. That put the Dow in an 80-point hole, before it rose to 13442.52, up 17.64, to cap a winning week of 2.5% growth. The S&P gained 0.30 to 1484.25, and the Nasdaq 1.12 to 2602.18.