Wall Street was lower on Tuesday as investors fretted over renewed uncertainties about the Federal Reserve's plan to raise interest rates this year.
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International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Tuesday warned of increasing risks to global economic growth, unless there were stronger measures by policymakers.
Lagarde's comments come a week after Fed Chair Janet Yellen urged caution on rate hikes, citing a shaky global economy and low oil prices.
However, some Fed officials have supported an aggressive monetary policy, sparking concerns about the timing and the number of rate hikes this year.
While the Fed has projected two hikes in 2016, traders are pricing in only one, with an even chance that the central bank may pull the trigger in June, according to the CME Group's FedWatch program.
Nervous investors pushed up gold, a traditional safe-haven, by more than 1 percent.
"It's looking down just because you have a general environment of uncertainty," said Lisa Kopp, head of traditional investments at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis.
"The recovery is long in the tooth and there has been a lot of market moving news," she said, referring to comments by Lagarde and Fed policymakers, as well as volatility in oil.
Crude steadied near one-month lows after Kuwait said an output freeze by top producers would proceed without Iran.
Data on Tuesday showed the U.S. trade deficit widened more than expected in February, while another report showed services sector activity rose in March.
At 12:36 p.m. ET (1636 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 108.2 points, or 0.61 percent, at 17,628.8, the S&P 500 was down 18.67 points, or 0.9 percent, at 2,047.46 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 45.37 points, or 0.93 percent, at 4,846.43.
All 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by the 1.52 percent fall in the rate-sensitive utilities sector.
The S&P financials sector fell 1.1 percent, led by Wells Fargo, while Goldman Sachs was the biggest drag on the Dow.
Allergan shares fell 16.3 percent to $232.10 as the U.S. Treasury unveiled rules to curb tax inversion deals, potentially derailing the drugmaker's merger with Pfizer . Pfizer was up about 2 percent.
Allergan was the biggest negative influence on the S&P 500.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,074 to 848. On the Nasdaq, 1,814 issues fell and 845 rose.
The S&P 500 index showed 12 new 52-week highs and two lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 15 new highs and 29 lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)