Wall Street ends lower after Fed holds rates steady

Stocks on Wall Street closed near the session’s lows Wednesday after the Federal Reserve held interest rates and its bond buying program steady.

The Dow ended down a half percent. The S&P 500 closed nearly flat. The Nasdaq shed more than a quarter percent.

The Fed gave no sign it would reduce its support for the recovery even though it said employment and economic activity have strengthened.

Market economist Peter Cardillo of Spartan Capital Securities says that signals that the Fed may have to begin tapering their asset purchases by year end.

“This was pretty strong language in terms of the economy progressing and that simply means that once we begin to get all of these macro indicators, that should show real strong strength. In the third and fourth quarter, I think the Fed is gonna have to rethink this. They probably will begin to talk in terms of tapering.”

Shares of Microsoft fell nearly 3%. The software giant’s 44% quarterly profit jump breezed past estimates, but investors said one-off tax and currency advantages boosted those results.

After the bell, Apple reported a blowout quarter. Profit blasted past expectations, and sales in every category topped analysts estimates. The company recorded $6.5 billion more in iPhone sales than predicted. Shares rose 4%.

Also after hours - Facebook shares rose 4% after the social network’s profit crushed analysts’ targets. Higher ad spending by businesses amid surging online traffic drove total revenue higher.

More big tech earnings ahead: Amazon and Twitter report their results Thursday.