Global stocks fall in light volume ahead of Fed statement

Tue Mar 15, 2016 5:32pm EDT
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By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks in major markets fell on Tuesday, with Wall Street posting subpar volume for a second straight session, after the Bank of Japan painted a bleaker picture of the world's third-largest economy and U.S. retail sales data lowered expectations of a strong first quarter.

The yen rose against the U.S. dollar, crude oil dropped and emerging market shares fell the most in more than a month.

U.S. retail sales fell less than expected in February, but a sharp downward revision to January's numbers cooled expectations for a strong quarter of growth for the U.S. economy.

However, the Federal Reserve is not expected to remove the prospect of a rate hike in the near future when it ends its two-day meeting on Wednesday.

"The Fed, I believe, is not going to do anything to take tightening out of the equation," said Paul Zemsky, chief investment officer, multi-asset strategies and solutions at Voya Investment Management in New York.

He said first-quarter growth in the United States looks "a bit worse" after the retail sales data. Taken with the recent run-up in stocks and ahead of a Fed statement, that creates an environment for profit-taking.

Healthcare weighed the most on the S&P 500, hurt by a 51 percent drop in shares of Valeant after the Canadian drugmaker slashed its 2016 revenue forecast and said a delay in filing its annual report could mean a debt default.

After trading slightly lower for most of the day, the Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 22.4 points, or 0.13 percent, to 17,251.53, while the S&P 500 .SPX lost 3.71 points, or 0.18 percent, to 2,015.93 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 21.61 points, or 0.45 percent, to 4,728.67.   Continued...

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York March 11, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson