US stocks make small dip ahead of FOMC

Share prices have retreated slightly today on Wall Street, as investors eagerly await the Fed’s decision on whether to scale back its stimulus or not.

The outcome of the latest FOMC meeting will be revealed at 7pm GMT, with a press conference from Chairman Ben Bernanke to follow at 7.30pm. We can expect at least some volatility in the wake of the decision, and that could be exacerbated depending on what the Chairman has to say.

By early afternoon in New York, the Dow was off by just 0.08% or 12 points at 15,863, while the broader S&P 500 index was down 0.33% at 1775.1.

The Fed will have been mulling over data that has largely been positive and the latest report today offered little to change that theme of improvement, with housing starts spiking in November, rising 22.7% to an annualised level of 1.091 million units after an increase of just 1.8% in October.

After the bumper reading in yesterday’s NAHB housing market index, this latest result signals the housing market is picking up momentum, which could help to drive fourth-quarter GDP growth and adds to the pile of ammunition available to the hawks at the Fed arguing for an immediate taper.

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