Wall Street retreats after rally; Fed meeting in focus

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday as investors paused ahead of a Federal Reserve meeting that could offer views on the recent signs of economic recovery that drove the tech-heavy Nasdaq to an all-time high in the previous session.

The S&P 1500 airlines index declined 8.5%, while cruise operators Carnival Corp and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd fell between 10% and 12% after climbing on Monday.

The Nasdaq became the first of Wall Street’s main indexes to confirm it entered a bull market two-and-a-half months earlier, as a rally in U.S. stocks accelerated last week after strikingly upbeat May jobs data strengthened views the worst of the economic fallout from the pandemic was over.

The benchmark S&P 500 is about 5% below its own all-time high, having climbed nearly 46% since its pandemic low on March 23.

“Because the S&P 500 has risen so far, so fast, you can always anticipate periodic short bouts of profit-taking to occur along the way,” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

“Markets may be moving based on where the economy will be a year from now versus, say, six months from now.”

While no major policy announcements are expected when the U.S. central bank wraps up its two-day meeting on Wednesday, investors will look for hints that the U.S. central bank believes the worst part of the coronavirus crisis has passed.

The benchmark U.S. yield curve — an indicator of economic expansion — has widened to its steepest level since March as U.S. data improved. Investors will also keep an eye out whether the Fed will step in to flatten the yield curve.

At 9:52 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 362.63 points, or 1.32%, at 27,209.81, the S&P 500 was down 33.47 points, or 1.04%, at 3,198.92. The Nasdaq Composite was down 32.98 points, or 0.33%, at 9,891.77.

All 11 S&P sectors were in the red with financials weighing the most.

In a bright spot, Macy’s Inc jumped 4% after the department store chain said its 450 reopened stores were performing better than expected.

Tiffany & Co edged 2.3% higher as the luxury jeweler said it had amended certain of its debt agreements in order to have sufficient liquidity to navigate the virus outbreak as it posted a 43% slump in quarterly sales.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 5.30-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 2.87-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded three new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 21 new highs and no new low.

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