NEW YORK – Stocks dipped Thursday after concerns about another disappointing report on jobs. But losses were held in check by expectations the Federal Reserve will act soon to strengthen the economy.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 32 points in midday trading. In recent months, a disappointing jobs report would have likely led to a bigger sell-off in stocks. However losses following weak economic reports have been limited recently because such disappointment supports predictions the Fed will step in to support growth.
“Good news is good news and bad news is good news,” said Sarah Hunt, a research analyst at Alpine Mutual Funds. The Fed’s next meeting ends Nov. 3 and it is widely expected an announcement on actions to stimulate the economy will be announced then.
Traders sent the dollar lower and gold higher Thursday because of the likely Fed move. The Fed is expected to buy government bonds, which would drive down interest rates down from already low levels. That makes gold and other currencies where interest rates are higher more attractive than the dollar.
Gold hit another record high, while the dollar fell to a 15-year low against the yen and touched its lowest level against the euro since January.
“People are pretty focused on what the Fed is going to do,” said Russell Croft, portfolio manager of the Croft Value Fund. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to give a speech Friday that could provide more details about how much money the central bank might pump into the economy.
The Dow fell 31.59, or 0.3 percent, to 11,064.26 in midday trading.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 5.58, or 0.5 percent, to 1,172.52, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 7.20, or 0.3 percent, to 2,434.03.