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Stock market news live updates: Stocks trade below all-time highs, Microsoft and Boeing shares weigh on Dow
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Stocks slipped on Wednesday, with each of the three major indexes trading below the flat line as investors digested an onslaught of corporate earnings results and a monetary policy decision from the Federal Reserve.The S&P 500 ended lower after reaching an intraday record high. Shares of Alphabet (GOOGL) gained after the company posted first-quarter sales and profit that easily exceeded estimates, fueled by a resurgence in advertising spending among customers. Shares of peer tech giant and Dow component Microsoft (MSFT), however, declined even after earnings topped expectations across virtually all major metrics. Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB) are poised to report results after market close on Wednesday. 
 
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A monetary policy decision from the Federal Open Market Committee punctuated what has otherwise been a busy week full of corporate earnings results. The central bank left rates on hold near zero and their asset purchase program unchanged at a monthly rate of $120 billion, as had widely been expected on both fronts. The FOMC maintained its language saying it was looking to see "substantial further progress" made toward the central bank's goals for maximum employment and price stability before adjusting its policies. However, it also acknowledged the improvement seen in the economy since the last Fed meeting in March. 
"Amid progress on vaccinations and strong policy support, indicators of economic activity and employment have strengthened," the FOMC said in its April statement. "The sectors most adversely affected by the pandemic remain weak but have shown improvement. Inflation has risen, largely reflecting transitory factors."
But the uneventfulness of the April FOMC decision belies the significant role the central bank has continued to play in underpinning markets over the course of the pandemic. As a result, even the slightest hints at tweaks to current policies – whether in the form of tapering the central bank's $120 billion per-month asset purchase program or raising rates – have been closely eyed by market participants. 

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