Stocks Ended Lower on Cliff Worries

U.S. stocks ended lower on Thursday after more signs of tension emerged from federal budget talks in Washington. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 74.73 points, or 0.56%, to 13,170.72. The S&2P 500 index declined 9.03 points, or 0.63%, to 1,419.45. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 21.65 points, or 0.7%, to end at 2,992.16.

Mild-mannered Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has pulled off a feat any pol would envy: winning more than 90 percent support for an extreme and untested new policy. On Dec. 12, the Fed’s rate-setting committee voted 11-1 for a monetary policy that for the first time links interest rates explicitly to numerical targets for unemployment and inflation. The Fed also voted to expand its bond purchases to bring down long-term interest rates. 

Average U.S. rates on fixed mortgages fell this week near record lows, providing more incentive for Americans to buy homes and refinance. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the 30-year loan dipped to 3.32 percent.

Adobe Systems Inc.’s (NASDAQ:ADBE) fiscal fourth-quarter earnings rose 28% as the software company benefited from lower overhead costs and the year-earlier period included $94.5 million in restructuring-related charges.

Swiss bank UBS (UBSN.VX) faces a fine of about $1 billion next week to settle charges of rigging the Libor interest rate benchmark, a person familiar with the situation said on Thursday.

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