U.S. stocks opened lower Wednesday ahead of the conclusion of a key Federal Reserve meeting. Investors are waiting to see whether policymakers signal that they are considering raising interest rates for the first time in almost a decade later this year. Oil continued to slide, weighing on energy stocks.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell seven points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,066 as of 9:54 am. Eastern. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 81 points, or 0.5 percent, to 17,767. The Nasdaq composite fell 13 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,924.
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FED WATCH: Investors are awaiting a Federal Reserve policy statement after the central bank wraps up a two-day meeting to discuss rates. Many economists expect that the Fed will change how it describes the time needed before it raises rates and signal that it is ready to raise rates for the first time in almost a decade.
The Fed will release a statement this afternoon. That will be followed by a press conference with Fed Chair Janet Yellen at 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
NOT DELIVERING: FedEx slumped $3.79, or 2.2 percent, to $171.78 after the package delivery company reported earnings. While its profit jumped 50 percent, beating Wall Street expectations, FedEx's forecast for the full year was below forecasts. Revenue edged up only slightly, missing expectations, due to lower fuel surcharges and the effects of a stronger dollar.
EUROPE'S DAY: European stocks were mixed. France's CAC 40 was littls changed and Germany's DAX fell 0.3 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.9 percent to 6,907.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil continued to fall, dropping $1.32 to $42.16 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international benchmark, fell 65 cents, 1.2 percent, to $52.87 a barrel in London.
BOND: U.S. government bond prices edged higher. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.02 percent from 2.08 percent on Tuesday.
CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 121.18 yen from 121.34 yen late Tuesday. The euro was little changed at $1.0615.