U.S. stocks fall as ecomonists predict Fed will curtail stimulus

VIX Rises

The Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, or VIX, rose 3.9% to 16.91. The equity volatility gauge, which moves in the opposite direction as the S&P 500 about 80% of the time, has lost 6.2% this year.

Nine of 10 groups in the S&P 500 declined today, with energy producers falling 1.2% to pace losses. Chevron slid 1.2% to $122.58 and Exxon Mobil dropped 1.1% to $90.50.

Salesforce.com dropped 5.5% to $38.78. The largest maker of online customer-management tools said it signed an agreement to buy e-mail marketer ExactTarget in a deal valued at $2.5 billion. ExactTarget jumped 52% to $33.70.

Dollar General slid 7.6% to $49.50 for the biggest drop in the S&P 500. The retailer cited “moderating” sales growth for lowering its adjusted-earnings target to as much as $3.22 per share from a previous maximum of $3.30. Analysts projected $3.28, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Phone Stocks

Phone companies rallied 0.5% for the only gain among 10 S&P 500 groups. AT&T Inc. jumped 1.3% to $35.54.

Monster Beverage Corp., the largest U.S. energy drink maker by sales volume, gained the most in the S&P 500, adding 8.5% to $58.54. The Corona, California-based company said yesterday gross sales the last two months increased 9%, an acceleration that is “encouraging,” Stifel Nicolaus & Co. said in a note today.

GM rose 1.6% to $34.98. The automaker will rejoin the S&P 500 after it was dropped following the company’s bankruptcy in June 2009. Heinz is being taken private by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Jorge Paulo Lemann’s 3G Capital in a $23 billion buyout. The change may prompt money managers to shift holdings to match the index.

An index that tracks chipmakers surged 0.5% for the biggest gain among 24 groups in the S&P 500. Intel Corp. advanced 1.1% to $25.52, the highest since August.

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