Stocks rose Wednesday and the Dow Jones industrial average flirted above 12,000 during the day for the first time since June 2008 after the Federal Reserve kept stimulus measures and new-home sales in the U.S. last month grew more than expected.
But the Dow eventually fell below the 12,000 mark, closing at 11,985.44, up 8.25 points or 0.07% from Tuesday’s close. The S&P 500 rose 5.45 points, or 0.42%, closing at 1,296.63; and the Nasdaq composite was up 20.25 points, or 0.74%, to close at 2,739.50. All numbers are preliminary.
The Commerce Department on Wednesday said purchases of new homes in the U.S. surged 18% in December, the biggest jump since 1992 and five times faster than the median economist estimate. However, new home sales for all of 2010 fell 14.4%.
Fed policymakers on Wednesday said signs of an accelerating recovery don’t warrant paring back efforts to reduce unemployment near the highest levels since the early 1980s. Its announcement came at the end of its policy meeting in Washington on Wednesday afternoon, a day after President Barack Obama called for a freeze on some government spending.