* Fed holds steady with bond buying, gives weaker growthview
* Private-sector employment below expectations, inflationmuted
* General Motors rallies, profit leaps on strong demand
* Facebook turns negative after hours, erases late gain ofover 15 pct
* Dow off 0.4 pct, S&P 500 down 0.5 pct, Nasdaq off 0.6 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Oct 30 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday,with the S&P 500 snapping a four-day streak of gains after theFederal Reserve said it had a weaker growth outlook for theeconomy, even as it held steady with its stimulus program forthe time being.
Trading was volatile following the release of the statement,with the major U.S. stock indexes cutting losses to turn flatand dropping to session lows. Almost 70 percent of stocks onboth the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq declined, while all10 S&P 500 sector indexes fell.
While it had been widely expected that the U.S. central bankwouldn't announce any adjustments to its bond-buying program,the statement wasn't enough to extend a rally that has drivenboth the Dow and the S&P 500 to repeated record highs, includingin early trading on Wednesday.
"While there were essentially no changes between thisstatement and previous ones, it is clear that even this wasn'tas dovish as some investors were expecting, especially with thebull market getting a bit long in the tooth," said MichaelMullaney, who oversees about $10.7 billion as chief investmentofficer of Fiduciary Trust Co in Boston.
While the Fed's stimulus has kept a floor under stock pricesthis year, there have been signs that growth is slowing,including weak economic data and an earnings season marked bytepid revenue growth.
In trading following the market's close, Expedia Inc surged 18.3 percent to $59.10 after reporting itsresults, while Facebook erased an after-hours gain ofmore than 15 percent to trade down 3 percent at $47.57 aftercomments during the earnings call.
Starbucks Corp shares fell 2.8 percent to $78.60after the bell because the world's biggest coffee chain gave a2014 profit outlook that was below expectations.
The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 61.59points, or 0.39 percent, to end at 15,618.76. The Standard &Poor's 500 Index dropped 8.64 points, or 0.49 percent, tofinish at 1,763.31. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell21.72 points, or 0.55 percent, to close at 3,930.62.
The Dow industrials hit a record intraday high of 15,721shortly after Wednesday's opening bell, while the S&P 500 alsoreached a lifetime intraday high of 1,775.22 early in thesession.
Many analysts expect the Fed to delay until at least Marchin easing the stimulus measures that have encouraged investorsto buy riskier assets, like stocks, contributing to the S&P500's gain of more than 20 percent this year.
The central bank has held interest rates near zero sincelate 2008 and quadrupled the size of its balance sheet to morethan $3.7 trillion through three rounds of bond buying.
Private-sector employers hired the fewest workers in sixmonths in October, according to a report released on Wednesday,while the U.S. consumer price index showed benign inflation.Both indicators supported the Fed's stimulus policy.
In the latest batch of earnings, General Motors Co rose 3.2 percent to $37.23 after the U.S. automaker reportedstronger-than-expected quarterly profit because of strength inits core North American market and a smaller-than-anticipatedloss in Europe.
On the downside, Yelp Inc dropped 2.6 percent to$67.05 a day after it reported a wider third-quarter loss, whileWestern Union shares slid 12.4 percent to $16.85 afterthe company posted a steep drop in third-quarter earnings.
"Earnings haven't been amazing, but they've been steady andsustainable, which the market likes enough to help us reachall-time highs," said Andres Garcia-Amaya, global marketstrategist at J.P. Morgan Funds in New York, which has $400billion in assets under management.
"When the season ends and we focus on the macro again, thatprobably won't be good for the market."
Of the 313 companies in the S&P 500 that had reportedearnings through Wednesday morning, 68.4 percent have toppedWall Street's expectations, above both the 63 percent beat ratesince 1994 and the 66 percent rate for the past four quarters,according to Thomson Reuters data.
Revenue performance has been mixed, however, with 53.7percent of S&P 500 companies beating expectations, well belowthe 61 percent average since 2002, but slightly above the 49percent rate for the last four quarters.
- Stocks & Offerings
- Company Earnings
- General Motors