Fed Rate Cut No Cure for Volatility

Hopes that another big rate cut from the Federal Reserve might ease the stock market’s record volatility turned out to be misplaced, as a late warning from GE (NYSE: GE) on Wednesday caused the stock market to give up all of a 3% gain in the final 10 minutes of trading.

GE later said its apparently lowered outlook for 2009 was not new guidance, and that comments from CEO Jeff Immelt were taken out of context.

Stocks had been up nicely after the Fed cut interest rates by another half point to their lowest level since the end of the 2000-2003 downturn, then quickly ended the day mixed. Late-day liquidation has also been a pattern in the stock market recently and could have contributed to the decline.

Thursday may turn out to be another volatile day, with third-quarter GDP set to be released before the open. Economists believe the economy contracted by 0.5% in the quarter.

Tech stocks finished the day wildly mixed, with stocks like Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and AMD (NYSE: AMD) posting big gains, and others like Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) and Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) falling sharply.

HP (NYSE: HPQ) posted a modest gain after unveiling a low-cost mini-notebook.

Qwest (NYSE: Q), Corning (NYSE: GLW), Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Ultimate Software (NASDAQ: ULTI) tumbled on their results.

Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), which will report its earnings next week, lost 2.4%. Dell and HP are also among the companies reporting quarterly results next month.

The Nasdaq added 7 to 1657, the S&P lost 10 to 930, and the Dow fell 74 to 8990. Volume declined to 7.19 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2.79 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by a 21-11 margin on the NYSE, and 17-11 on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 52% on the NYSE, and 45% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 6-106 on the NYSE, and 2-213 on the Nasdaq.

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