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Stocks fall amid questions about Fed plan

NEW YORK CITY — Stocks slid Wednesday as concerns grew over whether the Federal Reserve’s plans to buy Treasury bonds might be smaller and slower than anticipated.

Another day of mixed earnings and economic reports also dragged down stocks. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 60 points in morning trading.

Traders were disappointed with earnings at Sprint Nextel Corp., Dr. Pepper Snapple Group Inc. and ConocoPhillips. Procter & Gamble Co. was among the few companies whose shares rose after releasing its earnings.

Stocks had been rising in recent weeks because of some mostly upbeat earnings and mounting expectations that the Fed would embark on another round of bond-buying to stimulate the economy.

Traders have been anticipating the Fed would buy between $500 billion and $1 trillion in Treasurys to drive interest rates lower and encourage lending and spending. A report in The Wall Street Journal said the Fed’s bond purchases might amount to a few hundred billion dollars over several months, which would fall short of those predictions. The report came a day after William Dudley, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said the central bank cannot fix the sluggish economy immediately.

The Fed meets next week and details of any stimulus are expected to be announced when the meeting wraps up Nov. 3.
The Dow fell 61.49, or 0.6 percent, to 11,107.97 in morning trading.