U.S. Stocks Lower as Energy Stocks Decline, Fed in Focus

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U.S. stocks were lower on Tuesday as oil prices weighed on energy stocks and investors sat on sidelines ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting. Global stocks declined, pushing the yen higher as investors sought safe havens.

Following its meeting, the Bank of Japan reduced its inflation expectations, insinuating that it may boost its stimulus program.

After two months of volatility, investors are taking a step back to digest data and determine where they want to position themselves for the next few months.

Data released on Tuesday showed a 0.1% dip in retail sales for the month of February, less than the 0.2% decline that economists were predicting. A sharp downward revision to January’s sales may fuel concerns about economic growth in the U.S.

The Federal Reserve is not expected to raise rates at this week’s meeting, which commences on Tuesday. However, investors will be looking to the central bank’s comments for clues on the path of future rate hikes.

In morning trade, the Dow Jones was down 99.81 points (0.58%) to 17,129.32. The Nasdaq Composite lost 25.15 points (0.53%) at 4,725.13. The S&P 500 fell 12.59 points (0.62%) at 2,007.05.

Tuesday’s sell-off was broad, with all of the S&P 500’s major sectors lower. The materials and energy sectors saw the biggest drops, falling by over 1%.

Chevron (CVX) was down 1.4% at $92.78. Freeport McMoRan (FCX) fell 6.7% to $9.30.

Oil prices slid again on Tuesday on mounting concerns that the recent rally had run its course and the global supply glut will not be easing anytime soon.

Apple (AAPL) saw a 1.9% gain to $104.47 on news that demand for iPhones in March was ahead of expectations.

Mead Johnson (MJN) jumped 10.3% to $83.18 on rumors that a deal was on the table.

On the New York Stock Exchange, the number of advancers outnumbered the decliners 2,225 to 478.

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