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US stocks retreat amid Fed speeches

Stock-Market-NewsU.S. stocks fell, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index having the longest retreat in a month, as financial shares sank and investors watched speeches from Federal Reserve officials for clues on monetary policies.

The S&P 500 retreated 0.5% to 1,701.84 at 4 p.m. in New York. The benchmark gauge has lost 1.4% over three days, giving back all its gains from the Fed’s unexpected move last week to maintain stimulus levels. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 49.71 points, or 0.3%, to 15,401.38. About 5.8 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, in line with the three-month average.

“At some point, investors are going to say, ‘What’s underpinning this strong rally? We need some solid numbers,’” Scott Armiger, chief investment officer at Christiana Trust in Wilmington, Delaware, said in a phone interview for Bloomberg. The firm has $6 billion under administration. Fed policy makers “are trying to neutralize the market. This time Bernanke said no tapering and they’re all running out and saying ‘wait a minute, folks, don’t get carried away.’”

One key Fed official said Monday that the economy wasnt strong enough for the Fed to cut back on its bond purchasing policies. William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said that the pace of improvement is insufficient, and too uncertain for the Fed to pull back now. Fed Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said monetary policy should focus on creating a more dynamic economy while Fed Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher said the central bank harmed its credibility with the decision last week.

Jonathan Corpina, senior managing partner with brokerage firm Meridian Equity Partners Inc., said that he didnt see investors rushing for the exits. Instead, he said, they were “trying to figure out where we are” after the Feds decision threw markets for a loop.

“The fact that most people were caught off guard meant that they werent positioned accordingly,” said Mr. Corpina. “People are starting to say, wait a second, we might have overreacted here.”

In corporate news, bank sector slumped significantly as Goldman Sachs slid 2.7% to $165.25 for the biggest retreat in the Dow. Citigroup sank 3.2% to $49.57. JP Morgan Chase & Co. retreated 2.5% to $51.46 and Bank of America Corp. erased 2.1% to $14.14.

Apple jumped 5%, the most in the S&P 500 and its biggest gain since July 24, to $490.64. The company sold 9 million iPhone 5s and 5c models. That topped the 5 million in opening-weekend sales for last year’s model.

Pandora Media Inc., the biggest web radio service, tumbled 10% to $24.26 after Apple said more than 11 million listeners have used iTunes Radio since its launch this year.

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