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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  January 19, 2005
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Some caution ahead of the Fed
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NEW YORK Stocks are little changed in early trading, with investors reluctant to do much of anything after yesterday's rally, ahead of today's Federal Reserve meeting on interest rates. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 12 points. Losing issues on the New York Stock Exchange hold a narrow lead over gainers.

The Nasdaq Composite Index is up one point and the Standard-and-Poor's 500 Stock Index is down -half point.

The Fed's monetary policy committee is expected to raise short-term interest rates another quarter point to two and a-quarter percent. What investors will be focusing on will be how the central bankers see the outlook, particularly on inflation.

The Fed is expected to announce its decision at 2:15 Eastern time.

In other news on the economy, the Commerce Department has reported the U-S trade deficit for October. The government says the gap rose almost nine percent to 55 and a-half (b) billion dollars from a downwardly revised shortfall of 51 (b) billion in September.

High oil prices and rising demand for foreign-made consumer goods are being blamed for the widening gap.

Also, the Fed reported this morning that industrial production at the nation's factories, mines and utilities rose by three-tenths of a percent in November.

The percentage of plants' operating capacity in use last month climbed to 77-point-six percent, the highest reading since May 2001.

Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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