Stocks Ended Lower ahead of Fed, ECB Meetings

U.S. stocks ended lower on  Tuesday, trimming a second month of gains, as investors worried central banks would not come through with enough stimulus to stem worries about the global economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 64.33 points, or 0.49%, to 13,008.68, up 1% from the end of June. The S&P 500 index retreated 5.98 points, or 0.43%, to 1,379.32, up 1.3% for July. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 6.32 points, or 0.21%, to 2,939.52, up 0.2% for the month.

The Federal Reserve, which started its two-day policy meeting Tuesday, appears to be moving toward announcing some kind of new step to energize the U.S. economy. But there were big questions over whether it will do so this week.

Microsoft Corp. is replacing Hotmail, its Web-based consumer e-mail system, with an expanded version of Outlook, the system widely used by businesses. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)  said it is making Outlook.com available for preview on Tuesday, touting an upgraded Web-based system compatible with mobile devices and social networking.

Google Inc.  has bought social advertising startup Wildfire Interactive, said both companies, for a reported $250 million. It’s a smart move, says BGC Partners analyst Colin Gillis, mainly because of Facebook Inc., Google’s chief rival GOOG and Wildfire’s main client.

Allstate Corp. (NYSE:ALL) reported late Tuesday it swung to a second-quarter profit of $423 million, or 86 cents a share, from a loss of $624 million, or $1.19 a share, a year ago. The insurance company pointed to fewer catastrophe costs as reason for stronger results. Revenue for the quarter rose 2.4% to $8.28 billion.

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