U.S. stocks fell broadly in midday trading on Wall Street Wednesday ahead of the latest interest rate policy decision by the Federal Reserve.
Health care and technology companies led the market lower as investors favored safer holdings in the utilities and real estate sectors. Microsoft and Apple edged lower, dragging other technology stocks down with them.
Johnson & Johnson fell 1 percent and UnitedHealth Group fell 2.2 percent, weighing down their peers in the health care industry.
The market closed on a soft note Tuesday, ending a weeklong rally. The market is still off to a roaring start to the year. The S&P 500 index is up 12.6 percent so far in 2019. That’s better than the full-year gains for the benchmark index in four of the past five years.
Investors are looking ahead to comments from the Federal Reserve after its latest two-day meeting. The central bank has signaled that it will be “patient” in raising interest rates as it weighs a dimmer economic picture globally.
Bond prices rose ahead of the Fed announcement. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.59 percent.
Investors are also digesting another snippet of information on trade talks between the U.S. and China. White House officials are saying that top U.S. trade and economic officials will visit China late next week for another round of negotiations. Wall Street is hoping for a resolution to the damaging trade war between the world’s largest economies, which has made goods more costly for companies and consumers.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 121.5 points, or 0.5 percent, to 25,769 as of noon Eastern time. The S&P 500 fell 0.4 percent and the Nasdaq composite 0.3 percent.
DAMAGED PACKAGES: FedEx fell 5 percent after the company told investors that weak economic growth and higher costs will continue to cut into profit and revenue.
The package delivery company’s third-quarter profit fell more than expected as it dealt with slower economic growth and weak global trade. Revenue also fell short of forecasts. Looking ahead, the company cut its full-year profit forecast for a second time.
GAME ON: Google jumped into the video game arena, unveiling is Stadia platform and sinking shares of Sony and Nintendo.
Stadia works by streaming games on existing platforms, such as laptops and phones and can be shared directly to YouTube. It will potentially compete with more traditional console-based video game platforms, like Sony’s PlayStation. Sony’s U.S.-listed stock sank 5.3 percent in relatively heavy trading.
RISING DOUGH: General Mills blew away profit forecasts for the third quarter as higher prices on some of its products lifted revenue.
The stock rose 4 percent.
The maker of Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Pillsbury, has been facing tougher competition as consumer tastes continue to shift to healthier food options. The company has been working to build a broader mix of healthier products, along with raising prices on certain brands.
The company now expects adjusted full-year earnings per share to be flat to up 1 percent from last year’s $3.11. Previously it forecast a decline of up to 3 percent.
OIL SPIKES: News of tighter supplies of oil and continued production cuts helped push the price of benchmark U.S. crude oil above $60 a barrel. It hasn’t closed above that price since November. In afternoon trading it fell back slightly and was up 1 percent at $59.78 a barrel.
The rise came after the U.S. government reported that supplies of oil fell 9.6 percent last week and news that OPEC plans on maintaining deep production cuts.
The price of oil has been rising sharply since Christmas Eve, when it hit a low of just over $42 per barrel. That followed a 44 percent plunge since October 3, when it hit a high of just over $76 per barrel.
OVERSEAS: Germany’s Dax fell 1.5 percent on bad news for several key companies. Automaker BMW projected lower profits for the year. Also, a U.S. jury found that Bayer’s Roundup weed killer contributed to a California man’s cancer. Other European indexes edged lower and Asian indexes were mixed.