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Stocks end down as investors regroup

Traders Peter Tuchman, left, and Gregory Rowe share

Traders Peter Tuchman, left, and Gregory Rowe share a laugh on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday. The repercussions of the Fed statement will likely influence markets for several days. (Sept. 18, 2013) Credit: AP

Investors turned cautious Thursday, trying to decide the next step after the Federal Reserve announced its decision to keep its economic stimulus in place.

Stocks and government bond prices pulled back from record-setting levels on Wednesday.

At the close on Wall Street, the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.18 percent, to 1,722.34. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 40.39 points to close at 15,636.55. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.15 percent, to 3,789.38.

Investors faced new questions Thursday. Was the Fed's vote to delay dialing back its stimulus a signal that the U.S. economy is weaker than they previously thought? Does the Fed have greater concerns about future economic growth than Wall Street?

The Fed had been expected to scale back its $85 billion in monthly bond purchases by $10 billion to $15 billion.

The decision to keep the status quo was a surprise because Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke had telegraphed throughout the summer that the central bank was considering pulling back. The bond buying is designed to keep interest rates low with the goal of stimulating the economy by encouraging borrowing and lending.-- AP

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