NEW YORK — “Are you freaking kidding me?”

The trader at Raymond James and Associates Inc. on Park Avenue in New York couldn’t believe it when the headline flashed at 2 p.m. – once again, Janet Yellen was holding the line and doing nothing. The Federal Reserve would keep interest rates near zero, continuing the easy-money era that began seven years ago.

On the crowded trading floor, every seat taken, the reaction to the most anticipated Fed Open Market Committee meeting in recent memory was, as one man in a crisp blue-striped shirt said in astonishment, “Wow.”

Whether traders were betting the Fed would act or not, they just wanted the wait to be over. The last time the target rate was raised was in July 2006, and since December 2008 it’s been near zero. The government stimulus that started after the financial crisis as a boon to equity markets turned to a burden in recent months as a lack of clarity on, and a lot of fretting about, the Fed’s plan for liftoff loomed over stocks.

“I feel deflated,” said Mark Koczan, a trader at Raymond James. “It’s just more kicking the can down the road.”

As the clocked ticked down to 2 p.m. at Oppenheimer & Co. on Broad Street in lower Manhattan, rows and rows of men and women, a few standing, the rest hunched over their computer screens, chattered in nervous anticipation. There were shouts of “Buy! Buy!” and “We’re doing it before the decision!” Then someone yelled, “20 seconds, 20 seconds!” And then, “Bam – no change! No change!”

Ten minutes later, Andrew Burkly, managing director of Oppenheimer’s portfolio strategy, leaned back in his chair and watched as the volume level in the room returned to normal. “Everyone was sitting on their hands waiting, so now there’s a bit of disappointment,” he said. “I can’t remember a Fed meeting with so much anxiety.”

After the volatile day was all over, stocks ended mostly lower.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 65.21 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,674.74. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 5.11 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,990.20 and the Nasdaq composite index rose 4.71 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,893.95.

The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury note dropped to 2.19 percent from 2.30 percent the day before, a large shift. Oil finished slightly lower, with U.S. crude dipping 25 cents to $46.90 a barrel.