Stocks ended lower in volatile trading Thursday after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke failed to provide additional detail on how to boost the weakening U.S. economy and as investors looked ahead to President Obama's jobs speech later this evening.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 119.05 points, or 1.04 percent, to close at 11,295.81, led by JPMorgan and BofA .
Cisco led the blue-chip gainers after the tech bellwether's rating was boosted to "buy" from "hold" by Auriga.
The S&P 500 slid 12.72 points, or 1.06 percent, to end at 1,185.90. The Nasdaq declined 19.80 points, or 0.78 percent, to finish at 2,529.14.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded above 34.
All 10 S&P sectors finished lower, led by financials and industrials.
Bernanke reiterated his speech from his Jackson Hole speech in August on the Fed's commitment to providing stimulus for the economybut offered no specific promises or details about what action could be taken, adding that the central bank still has tools at its disposal to foster economic growth.
“Today’s speech is confirmation of the one Bernanke gave in August that they’re seeing an economic slowdown and that [the Fed] might have to do something,” said Brian Battle, vice president of trading at Performance Trust Capital Partners. “The FOMC meeting on Sept. 20-21 will be very important to see if the Fed is actually going to take action.”
Speculation among economists has ranged from the Fed implementing a third round of quantitative easing to Operation Twist to other measures as well, including cutting the interest it pays on reserves that banks deposit at the Fed.
Earlier this week, the FOMC's Charles Evans said that the U.S.'s economy is growing so slowly that it is similar to a recession.
Meanwhile, President Obama is slated to unveil his much-anticipated plan to create jobs before a joint session of Congress at 7 pm ET. Obama is reported to be seeking as much as $300 billionin infrastructure investments and tax cuts to inspire hiring.
Bank stocks gave back some of their robust gains from the previous session. BofA , Citigroup and Morgan Stanley were all down more than 3 percent.
Among techs, Google acquired restaurant rating service company Zagat. Meanwhile, shares of Zagat's rival OpenTable slumped following the news.