Stocks Ended Flat on Bernanke’s cliff Comments

U.S. stocks closed nearly unchanged on Tuesday as Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank lacks tools to cushion the economy from the impact of the “fiscal cliff.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 7.45 points, or 0.06%, to 12,788.51. The S&P 500 index rose 0.92 point, or 0.07%, to 1,387.81. The Nasdaq Composite added 0.61 point, or 0.02%, to 2,916.68.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on Tuesday urged Congress and the Obama administration to strike a budget deal to avert tax increases and spending cuts that could trigger a recession next year. Without a deal, the measures known as the “fiscal cliff” will take effect in January.

Unemployment rates fell in 37 states and the District of Columbia last month despite the slight rise in the national jobless rate, the government reported Tuesday. Unemployment increased slightly in seven states and was unchanged in six. The unemployment rate fell most sharply in South Carolina, from 9.1% to 8.6%, followed by Alaska’s decline to 7.1% from 7.5%, and Wisconsin’s, to 6.9% from 7.3%.

A hedge-fund manager and a doctor are at the heart of what securities regulators said Tuesday may be the largest insider-trading scheme ever pursued, a case that now has implicated one of the highest-profile investors on Wall Street. The Securities and Exchange Commission alleged that $276 million in illegal profits or avoided losses were made by investment advisers and their hedge funds, by trading ahead of negative news in July 2008 on a clinical trial involving an Alzheimer’s drug developed by Elan Corp. (NYSE:ELN)  and Wyeth, now a subsidiary of Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE)

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