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US: Nasdaq ends at another record; Dow, S&P 500 finish down

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Wall Street stocks finished mostly lower on Wednesday following a volatile session as the Federal Reserve vowed to keep interest rates low due to the shaky economic outlook.

[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks finished mostly lower on Wednesday following a volatile session as the Federal Reserve vowed to keep interest rates low due to the shaky economic outlook.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index finished up 0.7 per cent at 10,020.35, its third straight record close and the first time above 10,000 points.

But the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 1.0 per cent to 26,989.99, while the broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.5 per cent to 3,190.14.

At the close of its two-day policy-setting meeting, the Fed confirmed it will keep the benchmark interest rate at zero until the recovery is underway, while projecting the economy would contract by 6.5 per cent this year and unemployment would fall to 9.3 per cent from its current 13.3 per cent.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said Friday's Labor Department data showing an unexpected drop in unemployment was a "welcome surprise," but cautioned that "it's a long road" back after more than 20 million workers were displaced by coronavirus shutdowns.

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Stocks rose shortly after the Fed released its statement, which showed most central bank policymakers expect the key rate to stay the same through 2022 at least.

However, the Dow and S&P 500 tumbled back into negative territory during Mr Powell's press conference.

Mr Powell's tone was "practical," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare.

"He's very cognizant of the fact that the recovery might not unfold as quickly as the stock market seems to think it will," Mr O'Hare said.

Sectors with big drops included energy and banking, which are dependent on a cyclical economic upturn. Hotels, retailers and airlines also fell.

But several prominent technology companies had winning sessions, including Apple, which gained 2.6 per cent, and Tesla, which rocketed 9.0 per cent higher and finished above US$1,000 for the first time.

AFP

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