Wall Street pauses from record-breaking rally to think a bit

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Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 12:00 am

The rally that has driven stocks to records paused this week as investors tried to figure out where things are headed next.

Stocks were mixed Friday and posted their second weekly loss in a row. Indexes reached record highs as recently as Monday, but then declined.

Why?

Investors may be nervous that stocks are overpriced, that stock prices have grown faster than justified by profits. They may be worried about conflict with Iran or the debate over federal spending. Some are worried the Federal Reserve will decide next week to reduce its economic stimulus, which has boosted stock prices.

“It’s a hiatus,” said Frank Fantozzi, CEO of money management firm Planned Financial Services. “I really think there’s nothing economically wrong.”

Fantozzi noted that other bull markets have run for seven or eight years and peaked with higher prices compared to profits than those seen now.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15.93 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 15,755.36.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.18 points, or 0.01 percent, to 1,775.32.

The Nasdaq composite rose 2.57 points, or 0.06 percent, to 4,000.98.

All three indexes fell for the week despite strong reports about employment, housing and retail spending. Investors have worried that the stronger the Fed thinks the economy is, the more likely it is to stop buying $85 billion a month in bonds. Those purchases have been aimed at keeping interest rates low, which makes it cheaper to borrow.

That in turn has sent investors into stocks, seeking higher returns. The big indexes are up 20 percent or more this year.

The central bank’s policymaking committee meets next week and will announce any decisions Wednesday.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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