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Stocks open lower ahead of Fed minutes; energy shares drop

U.S. stocks lower as energy shares drop

Stocks opened lower on Wednesday, pulling back from record levels. Declines were led by energy stocks, as the price of oil fell on speculation that a recent rally in the crude was excessive.

Later, traders will also comb through the minutes of the last Federal Reserve policy meeting for an indication of when the central bank might start raising interest rates.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell three points, or 0.2%, to 2,096 as of 9:54 a.m. Eastern. The index closed at an all-time high of 2,100 on Tuesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 29 points, or 0.2%, to 18,012. The Nasdaq composite eased three points, or 0.1%, to 4,896.

FED MINUTES LOOMING: Later Wednesday, the Federal Reserve will release minutes from its January policy meeting. Investors want to see if policy makers are close to raising interest rates. Currently, investors are expecting the Fed to raise rates between June and September. That would be the first increase since 2006.

ENERGY: Oil prices remained volatile with the recent rally appearing to flag. Benchmark U.S. crude, which had been on the rise last week, was down 40 cents at $53.11 a barrel Wednesday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, fell 79 cents to $61.75 a barrel.

EARNINGS WATCH: Shares of Fossil Group plunged as the company's fourth-quarter results and outlook disappointed investors. The company's stock dropped $17.34, or 17.5%, to $81.88.

GREECE: The Greek government is set to ask its European creditors to extend a 240 billion-euro international loan agreement — but without the deep spending cuts and income reductions of the country's austerity program. Greece's bailout program expires after Feb. 28 and there are worries that a failure to extend it may force the country out of the euro, which could be potentially damaging to the global economy. Investors are optimistic that Greece will eventually reach a compromise with its creditors.

EUROPE'S DAY: The main stock market in Athens was up 1.2%, while Germany's DAX rose 0.5%. The CAC-40 in France was 0.9% higher but the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares fell 0.2%.

BONDS AND CURRENCIES: In government bond trading, prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.11% from 2.14% late Tuesday.

The dollar gained against the euro, pushing the currency down to 1.1372

 

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