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Dow sinks again as traders ponder Fed exiting bond buys

Aug. 22, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

NEW YORK -- Stocks fell sharply Wednesday after the Federal Reserve disclosed that its top officials were mostly in agreement that the central bank should end its massive bond-buying program.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost just over 100 points, giving the index its longest losing streak in more than a year. The Dow has fallen 4.9 percent since hitting a record high on Aug. 2.

In the minutes from Fed's July policy meeting, board members said it "might soon be time" to slow the purchases. The bond-buying program has been in place in one form or another since late 2008 to keep interest rates low and encourage economic growth.

Traders have been worried about weak earnings and have been looking for clarity on how and when the Fed will wind down its bond purchases. Some investors believe the Fed's bond-buying have inflated stock prices.

The Dow fell 105.44 points, or 0.7 percent, to 14,897.55. The index has fallen for six straight days for the first time since July 2012.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 9.55 points, or 0.6 percent, to 1,642.80. The Nasdaq composite lost 13.80 points, or 0.4 percent, to 3,599.79.

Guy Berger, U.S. economist with RBS Securities, said the Fed minutes were mostly in line with what the market had expected.

"The minutes are very consistent with what Fed members have been saying since June," when Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke first laid out the idea of pulling back on bond purchases, Berger said.

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