NEW YORK: Stocks finished little changed Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke warned the Fed does not have the ability to shield the economy from the fiscal cliff.
Stocks had jumped to session highs after the central bank said it would add further stimulus, only to reverse into negative turf as Bernanke addressed a news conference, taking questions that largely focused on the steep spending cuts and tax increases that start in January, should politicians fail to avert them with a new budget deal.
Bernanke’s comments came after the U.S. central bank said it would add $45 billion in Treasury-note purchases to its $40 billion-a-month purchases of mortgage-backed bonds, and would keep official rates near zero so long as the jobless rate remains above 6.5 percent and inflation is not forecast to rise above 2.5 percent.
Halting a five-session winning run, the Dow Jones industrial average declined 2.99 points to 13,245.45.
The S&P 500 index retained a 0.64-point gain to end at 1,428.48.
The Nasdaq composite index fell 8.49 points, or 0.3 percent, to 3,013.81.