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US stocks decline amid earnings, stimulus speculation

US stocks retreated, confirming preceding trend of index futures, as Standard & Poors 500 Index fell for a second day for the first time in three weeks amid corporate earnings and speculation about Fed paring its bond purchasing program till the end of the year.

The S&P 500 dropped 0.4% to 1,756.54 at 4 p.m. in New York, after dynamic movement between gains and losses during the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 73.01 points, or 0.5%, to 15,545.75. About 7.2 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, 21% above the three-month average.

“Cheap money has been fueling this puppy, and the cheap money is going to stay around for a while,” said for The Wall Street Journal, Martin Leclerc, chief investment officer at Barrack Yard Advisors in Bryn Mawr, Pa. “It seems like the path of least resistance is still higher.”

Investors are focused on possible changes to Fed policy. On Wednesday, the central banks assessment of the U.S. economy was unchanged from upbeat, leaving the door open for the Fed to still begin to reduce its bond-buying efforts in December. The S&P 500 slipped 0.5% on Wednesday, snapping a four-day winning streak.

In corporate news, Exxon Mobil added 0.9% after the companys third-quarter net income and revenue topped estimates.

Facebook gained after significant drop at the opening of yesterdays trading session. Late Wednesday, the social-media company posted a rise in mobile advertising, but some worried that the company reported a decrease in usage among young teens.

Expedia soared 18% after reporting late Wednesday that its quarterly earnings handily topped forecast.

ConocoPhillips increased 0.1% after the exploration-and-production company posted a quarterly earnings increase of 38%. Results were boosted by a gain on an asset sale, and the company unveiled plans to sell still more interests in other assets.

Visa dropped more than 3% after the debit and credit card transaction processor said that sales grew less than expected, while profits matched expectations.

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