Dec. 4 - Summary: Stocks fall for a fourth day as stronger economic data fuel talk the Federal Reserve may curtail stimulus in coming months; Icahn tweets latest Apple buyback proposal; U.S. seeks more info on Tesla. Conway G. Gittens reports.
Wall Street just can't make up its mind - is the Federal Reserve closer to trimming its bond buying program or not? That indecision made for a volatile session, ending with stocks in a four-day slump. Part of the stock market's problem stemmed from the bond market. Yields on the 10-year note spiked to the highest in almost three months. Private employers adding the biggest number of jumps in a year, a surprise surge in new home sales, continued expansion in the services sector, and a report from the Fed describing overall economic growth in recent weeks as "modest to moderate" - ramping up talk the Fed could start slowing bond purchases in the next few months. Investors are now waiting to see if Friday's employment report confirms economic strength. Carl Icahn taking to Twitter again to talk Apple. This time the activist investor tweets he plans to put up a proposal calling Apple shareholders to vote on a share buyback increase, though smaller than the $150 billion he previously wanted. Shares of Apple moved little on the late-breaking tweet. Microsoft, though, was the tech stock of the day. The stock traded at its best level in more than 13 years. Investors believe the company is close to naming a new CEO. In other corporate headlines: Tesla has been asked to provide additional information to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, causing concern about the regulator's look into three Model S car fires in six weeks. Jitters about the investigation were enough to take the stock down by roughly four percent. Looking to Europe, there was another sea of down arrows with UK bank Standard Chartered beat up after a profit warning.