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Markets Close with Big Sell-Off

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stocks on Wall Street finished the Wednesday session at their lows for the day, with the major U.S. indices giving back nearly all of their gains from Monday & Tuesday’s rally.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 206 points, or 1.35 percent, at 15,112.  The Nasdaq Composite closed down 39 points, or 1.12 percent, at 3,443. The S&P 500 index finished the session at 1,628, down 23 points.

The sell-off in stocks picked up steam in the final hour of trading on Wednesday after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke hinted that the central bank will start to slowly pull back on its stimulus program – its bond purchases – later this year.
 
The good news Wednesday is that the Fed believes the economy will grow somewhere between 3.0 to 3.5 percent next year – that’s a bit better than they previously thought.  And the Fed also said it believes the unemployment rate could fall to 6.5 percent as early as 2014. Originally Chairman Bernanke didn’t think the rate would reach that level until 2015.  The unemployment rate is currently 7.6 percent.

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