Stocks Pause Ahead of Fed Meeting

After spending much of April focused on corporate earnings, investors this week will turn their focus back to the economy, with a number of major economic releases and a Federal Reserve meeting on tap.

The Fed will meet Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss interest rate policy, and analysts believe the Fed’s rate-cutting spree may be over, with just a quarter-point cut expected.

Before the Fed’s decision is announced Wednesday afternoon, traders will get their first look at first-quarter GDP, and economists are expecting another quarter of about a half-percent growth, hovering just above the flatline as the U.S. struggles to avoid recession.

On Friday, the Labor Department will issue its monthly jobs report, and economists expect a loss of another 75,000 jobs for April.

The biggest earnings news of the week for the tech sector could be Sun Microsystems’ results, due out Thursday after the market close. Analysts are looking for earnings of 18 cents a share on a 3% increase in sales to $3.38 billion, according to Thomson Financial.

Stocks were little changed Monday in advance of the onslaught of news. was the day’s standout, soaring 14% to a new 52-week high after raising second-quarter sales guidance well above analysts’ expectations.

Verizon was another winner, gaining 2.5% after the company’s first-quarter earnings and sales met estimates on strength in its wireless business.

Microsoft continued to fall in the wake of disappointing results, down 2.8%, while Yahoo slipped 1.4% after the weekend came and went without resolution to Microsoft’s bid for the company.

Sycamore fell 13% after lowering its sales guidance, and Silicom and Radware fell on their results. Comscore tumbled on worries ahead of its earnings report later this week.

Cray gained 7.5% on an upgrade.

The Nasdaq added 1 to 2424, the S&P slipped 1 to 1396 after briefly clearing 1400 for the first time since mid-January, and the Dow lost 20 to 12,871. Volume declined to 3.83 billion shares on the NYSE, and 2 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led by a 19-13 margin on the NYSE, and by a 15-13 margin on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 53% on the NYSE, and 52% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 80-70 on the NYSE, and 66-89 on the Nasdaq.

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