Updated March 25 at 12:28am
economic indicators

U.S. stocks little changed as investors weigh pace of stimulus


NEW YORK - U.S. stocks were little changed, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index poised for a third straight week of gains, as investors weighed the pace of central bank stimulus amid a meeting of finance ministers.

The S&P 500 added 0.1 percent to 1,628.03 at 9:31 a.m. in New York. The equity benchmark rallied to a record on five consecutive trading days starting on May 2, and is heading for a weekly gain of 0.8 percent.

“People are seeing light at the end of the tunnel,” Larry Kantor, the New York-based head of research at Barclays Plc, said in a radio interview on “Bloomberg Surveillance” with Tom Keene. “We would not be surprised to see a correction but we would be a buyers on dips because of the tremendous monetary policy and the fact that the economy is growing.”

Group of Seven finance ministers start a two-day meeting in Aylesbury, north of London, today. They may not release a formal communique, a Canadian Finance Department official said May 8. Central banks worldwide have announced 511 interest-rate cuts since June 2007, according to a Bank of America Corp. tally done before Vietnam and Sri Lanka lowered their policy rates today.

Bernanke speech

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is delivering a speech today on monitoring finance at the Chicago Fed’s annual conference on bank structure and competition. The Federal Open Market Committee last week said it will maintain its asset- purchase program until the unemployment rate shows significant improvement.

U.S. stocks retreated yesterday after the Fed Bank of Philadelphia President Charles Plosser said he favors scaling back the central bank’s monthly $85 billion in bond purchases as early as the next FOMC meeting, which is scheduled for June 18-19.

“We had a very clear statement from the Federal Reserve many months ago that they have an unemployment target and they are keeping an easy monetary policy until the unemployment rate gets to 6.5 percent,” Bob Parker, who helps oversee about $400 billion as senior adviser at Credit Suisse Asset Management in London, told Manus Cranny on Bloomberg Television. “Currently, it’s 7.5 percent. The key question is: when do we get to 6.5 percent? My guess is the middle of 2014.”

The U.S. bull market has entered its fifth year. The S&P 500 has surged 140 percent from a 12-year low in 2009, driven by better-than-estimated corporate earnings and three rounds of bond purchases from the Fed.


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