Stocks fall on Wall Street ahead of Fed policy statement

<p><p>Stocks fell in afternoon trading on Wall Street Wednesday as traders wait to hear from the Federal Reserve after its last policy meeting of the year.</p></p><p><p>The S&amp;P 500 index fell 0.3% as of 12:05 p.m. Eastern and is coming off of two days of losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2 points, or less than 0.1%, to 35,539 and the Nasdaq fell 0.9%.</p></p><p><p>Retailers and other companies that rely on consumer spending fell. The slip follows the latest retail sales report from the Commerce Department.</p></p><p><p><a href=”https://apnews.com/article/business-lifestyle-prices-shopping-retail-sales-d28e916245efeb8a5f2a3e89006ea22e” target=”—blank”>Sales rose a modest 0.3% in November</a>, but fell short of economists’ forecasts amid concerns that rising costs could crimp consumer spending.</p></p><p><p>Amazon.com fell 1.8%, General Motors fell 1.9%. Coach and Kate Spade owner Tapestry shed 3.4%.</p></p><p><p>Big communications companies were also among the biggest weights on the market. Facebook parent Meta fell 2% and Google parent Alphabet shed 1.1%.</p></p><p><p>U.S. crude oil prices fell 1.2% and sent energy stocks lower. Hess fell 3%.</p></p><p><p>Banks also fell.</p></p><p><p>Bond yields were steady. The yield on the 10-year Treasury remained at 1.44%, unchanged from late Tuesday.</p></p><p><p>Health care companies made solid gains. Eli Lilly jumped 8.6% after giving investors an encouraging update on its financial forecasts and drug development.</p></p><p><p>Rising inflation and its impact on the broader economy and markets will be a key focus when the Federal Reserve releases a statement later Wednesday as it ends its last two-day meeting of the year.</p></p><p><p>The central bank is widely expected to announce a faster pullback of its stimulus measures as inflationary pressures build. That would include hastening plans to trim bond purchases that have kept interest rates in check.</p></p><p><p>Investors will also be listening for any clues to the Fed’s timeline in 2022 for raising benchmark interest rates.</p></p><p><p>Concerns over the impact from the Fed’s actions, along with the latest coronavirus variant, have made for choppy trading as the market approaches the close of 2021.</p></p>