Stocks waver a day after record-setting run

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are little changed in early trading Thursday, a day after hitting a record high because of a surprise move from the Federal Reserve to keep its economic stimulus in place.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose two points, 0.1 percent, to 1,727 after the first hour of trading. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped four points, or 0.03 percent, to 15,671 and the Nasdaq composite index was up three points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,786.

The Fed voted Wednesday to continue its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program. The decision was a surprise to most investors because Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and other voting members of the Fed had telegraphed over the summer than the bank was considering pulling back. The program is designed to keep interest rates low with the goal of stimulating the economy by encouraging borrowing and lending.

Stocks soared on the news. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 hit record highs Wednesday. Investors also made big moves into gold, anticipating that the Fed’s inaction may cause the dollar to weaken or cause inflation.

Gold continued to climb Thursday, surging $56 an ounce, or 4 percent, to $1,363 an ounce in morning trading.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.74 percent from 2.69 percent late Wednesday.

Investors also had a better-than-expected report on unemployment claims to digest Thursday. The government said the number of people who filed for unemployment benefits rose to 309,000 last week, well below the 326,000 claims economists had expected, according to data from FactSet.

In corporate news:

— ConAgra, whose many brands include Chef Boyardee and Marie Callender’s, slumped 88 cents, or 3 percent, to $31.19 after the company’s income fell short of analysts’ expectations. The company also cut its outlook for 2014.

—JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay $920 million in fines to U.S. and British regulators related to the “London Whale” trading loss. The stock fell 47 cents, or 1 percent, to $52.93.

— Rite Aid jumped 50 cents, or 13 percent, to $4.21. The drug store chain said it posted an unexpected second-quarter profit. It also raised its profit forecast for fiscal year 2014.

— Agilent Technologies, which makes scientific instruments, rose $2.82, or 5.7 percent, to $52.18 after announcing a spinoff of its electronic measurement business.

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