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Stocks ended Friday nearly unchanged, as investors cautiously await the outcome of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting scheduled this week to gain further insights into what could possibly be the Fed’s next move. The Dow and S&P 500 recorded weekly declines for the second consecutive week. This was also the worst week for both indices in nearly four months, caused primarily due to the increasing possibility of a near term taper of the Fed’s monetary stimulus. The materials sector was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups while energy suffered the most.

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) added 0.1% to close the day at 15,755.36. However, the S&P 500 declined marginally, by 0.01%, to finish Friday’s trading session at 1775.32. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index increased nearly 0.1% to end at 4000.98. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) climbed 1.4% to settle at 15.76. Consolidated volumes on the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and Nasdaq were roughly 5.1 billion shares. Advancing stocks outnumbered the decliners. For 55% shares that advanced, only 41% declined.

Speculation that a Fed taper would occur in the new term led to an outflow of $6.51 billion from equity mutual fund stocks. This also constitutes the maximum outflow from funds in the current year. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting is scheduled on 17th and 18th, and will be the Fed’s last meeting for the year. The outcome of this meeting is widely expected to determine the future of the stimulus program.
Separately, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the U.S. Producer Price Index (PPI) for finished goods decreased 0.1% in November, below the consensus estimate. In the month of November, prices for finished goods declined 0.2%. Prices received by manufacturers for intermediate goods dropped 0.5%, and the index for crude goods dropped 2.6%. The unadjusted prices for finished goods climbed 0.7% for the past twelve months ended on November 2013.
Shares of Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE) rose nearly 12.8% to $60.89 per share. This comes after the company reported an increase in the number of subscribers of its Creative Cloud suite compared to the previous quarter. Adjusted earnings per share for the fourth quarter came in at $0.32. The company expects its earnings per share in the coming first quarter to range from $0.22-$0.28. EPS for the full year is expected to be around $1.10. Adobe Systems rose sharply and climbed for almost the entire session.
 The materials sector was the biggest gainer among the S&P 500 industry groups on Friday. The Materials SPDR (XLB) gained 0.5%. Stocks such as Monsanto Company (NYSE:MON), E I Du Pont De Nemours And Co (NYSE:DD), The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE:DOW), Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE:FCX), and Ecolab Inc. (NYSE:ECL) increased 0.4%, 0.5%, 1.9%, 0.2% and 0.3%, respectively.

The energy sector took the maximum loses among the S&P 500 industry groups on Friday. The Energy SPDR (XLE) lost 0.3%. Stocks such as Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), Schlumberger Limited. (NYSE:SLB), Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY), and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) decreased 0.1%, 0.9%, 0.7%, 0.1%, and 0.1%, respectively.

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