Stocks Open Mixed Ahead of Fed

U.S. stocks opened mostly lower on Wednesday as investors digested a handful of corporate earnings and ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy statement. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 76.14 points to 12,599.61. The S&P 500 fell 5.49 points to 1,309.16. The Nasdaq climbed 4.89 points to 2,791.53.

After months of preparation, the Fed will reveal on Wednesday the results of its own facelift that has economists sitting on the edge of their seats. Fed officials will release forecasts for their best guess of the path of short-term rates for coming years. They will also provide the likely time of the first rate hike and will also disclose qualitative assessments of the role of the balance sheet ahead.

Applications for home mortgages retreated last week, giving back some of the previous week’s surge as interest rates rose, an industry group said on Wednesday. The Mortgage Bankers Association said its seasonally adjusted index of mortgage application activity, which includes both refinancing and home purchase demand, fell 5 percent in the week ended Jan 20.

United Technologies Corp. said Wednesday its fourth-quarter profit rose nearly 11 percent, propelled by growth in its aerospace businesses. Total revenue increased 1 percent. The company said Wednesday that total net income in the October-December period was $1.33 billion, or $1.47 per share. That’s up from $1.2 billion, or $1.31 per share, in the same quarter in 2010. Revenue grew to $14.97 billion from $14.86 billion.

Quicker deliveries of Boeing’s commercial airplanes helped it report a 20-percent jump in fourth-quarter profits, and offset sluggish growth in its defense business. Boeing posted net income of $1.39 billion Wednesday, or $1.84 per share. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected $1 per share. Revenue was $19.56 billion, also better than expected.

Citigroup Inc said it may make further cuts in its securities and banking unit in 2012 if revenue does not pick up meaningfully, as the prospect of more layoffs looms large over investment banks globally.

President Barack Obama embarks Wednesday on a three-day tour of politically crucial states in a post-State of the Union journey to sell his 2012 economic policy goals while pitching his presidency to a divided public.

German business confidence rose for the third month in a row in January, according to the much-watched Ifo index released Wednesday. The index’s increase to 108.3 points from 107.2 in December exceeded market expectations for a reading of 107.5.






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