Market Wrap: Stocks End Lower After Fed Statement, Oil Drop

Financial Markets Wall Street
Richard Drew/AP
By Sinead Carew

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks ended Wednesday's session lower, driven by a sharp decline in the S&P 500 energy sector, after the Federal Reserve said the domestic economy was growing at a solid pace, signaling it remains on track to raise interest rates later this year.

Concluding their first policy-setting meeting of the year, Fed officials said they would be "patient" on raising rates as they looked past the urgent moves made by other central banks this month to boost their struggling economies.

The dollar strengthened further after the Fed statement, putting renewed pressure on oil, which fell to its lowest level since early 2009. This pushed energy stocks down further.

While many market participants said they were unsurprised by the Fed comments, Stephen Massocca, chief investment officer at Wedbush Equity Management in San Francisco said the Fed's language looked slightly stronger in support of a rate hike.

"It was more hawkish than people thought. But you are counting grains of sand coming through the hourglass so I don't think you will see it resonate much longer than what we've seen in the last hour or so," Massocca said.

"I don't think anyone is going to overreact here, but it was a surprising to me. I thought they would turn the dial 2 degrees and they turned it 6 degrees," he said.

Bond prices rose after the statement, which may also have put some pressure on stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 195.84 points, or 1.13 percent, to 17,191.37, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) lost 27.39 points, or 1.35 percent, to 2,002.16 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 43.50 points, or 0.93 percent, to 4,637.99.

The S&P energy sector finished down 3.9 percent as U.S. crude futures tumbled more than 4 percent to $44.31 a barrel. Barclays (BCS) and Goldman Sachs (GS) posted bearish notes on oil earlier in the day.

Rising Rates?

"Today's statement makes it apparent that they are less convinced that the core can stay insulated from the drop in oil prices," said Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. "Now, September is when I think the Fed will lift rates off zero."

The market had been boosted earlier by earnings from companies including Apple and Boeing.

A 5.7 percent advance in Apple (AAPL) shares limited losses on the Nasdaq. Apple smashed Wall Street expectations with record sales of big-screen iPhones in the holiday shopping season, which helped the company post the largest quarterly profit in corporate history.

Boeing (BA) added 5.4 percent after handily beating top- and bottom-line expectations.

NYSE decliners outnumbered advancers 2,284 to 825, for a 2.77-to-1 ratio; on the Nasdaq, 2,077 issues fell and 665 advanced for a 3.12-to-1 ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 58 new 52-week highs and 14 lows; the Nasdaq composite recorded 72 new highs and 71 lows.

Volume was heavier, with about 7.6 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges, above the 7.16 billion average for the month so far, according to BATS Global Markets.

-With additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica, Rodrigo Campos, Chuck Mikolajczak and Richard Leong.

What to watch Thursday:
  • The Labor Department reports weekly jobless claims at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
  • The National Association of Realtors releases the pending homes sales index at 10 a.m.
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
  • Abbott Laboratories (ABT)
  • Alibaba Group (BABA)
  • Ally Financial (ALLY)
  • (AMZN)
  • Broadcom (BRCM)
  • Cardinal Health (CAH)
  • Celgene (CELG)
  • Chubb (CB)
  • Coach (COH)
  • Colgate-Palmolive (CL)
  • Conoco-Phillips (COP)
  • Deutsche Bank (DB)
  • Diageo (DEO)
  • Dow Chemical (DOW)
  • EMC (EMC)
  • Ford Motor (F)
  • Google (GOOG) (GOOGL)
  • Harley-Davidson (HOG)
  • Hershey Co. (HSH)
  • JetBlue Airways (JBLU)
  • Kate Spade (KATE)
  • L-3 Communications (LLL)
  • Nokia (NOK)
  • Northrop Grumman (NOC)
  • Occidental Petroleum (OXY)
  • PulteGroup (PHM)
  • Raytheon (RTN)
  • Robert Half International (RHI)
  • Rogers Communication (RCI)
  • Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL)
  • Sherwin-Williams (SHW)
  • Stanley Black & Decker (SWK)
  • Nasdaq OMX Group (NDAQ)
  • Time Warner Cable (TWC)
  • Valero Energy (VLO)
  • Viacom (VIAB)
  • Visa (V)
12 Simple Ways to Save Money Around the House
See Gallery
Market Wrap: Stocks End Lower After Fed Statement, Oil Drop
You may think you're saving money by using that ancient washing machine or fridge from the '70s, but when it comes to major appliances, sometimes using it until it gives out isn't the best strategy.

Appliances that aren't energy efficient can run up your utility bills and cost you more than you're saving. More than one-third of refrigerators in America are more 10 years old, and these collectively cost consumers an extra $4.7 billion in energy costs, according to the Department of Energy. (Yes, "billion" with a "b.") While it may seem counterintuitive to spring for something new when the old model is still "works," investing in an Energy Star-rated appliance save you an estimated $35 to $300 over its lifetime as compared to your old model.
Don't worry about keeping up with the neighbors; focus only on the home improvement tasks that you need to have a healthy, happy home. Who cares if the Joneses just put in a new swimming pool or Jacuzzi? If a certain home upgrade isn't important to you, keep the money for things that do matter -- like paying off your mortgage 10 years early.
Bundle up in winter and keep the furnace down a notch or two. Use a ceiling or standing fan in the summer and save the air conditioner as a last resort. Get a programmable thermostat and set it to adjust the temperature when you're away from home. You can probably also drop your water heater a degree or two without really noticing it.

You can save as much as 1 percent from your heating bill for each degree you drop the thermostat, if the reduction lasts eight hours per day (while you're at work or asleep), according to That means a 10- to 15-degree drop in temperature could create significant savings. In addition, make sure you're not losing excess heat by covering drafts, adding weatherstripping or insulation, and installing heavy thermal curtains.
Keep an eye not just on how much water you're using (turn off the sink while you brush your teeth), but also on whether you're using hot water when you could be using cold. Most clothes and linens will come out just as clean in cold water as they do in warm or hot. Washing laundry with a hot wash and warm rinse costs 60 cents per load, while washing with a cold wash and cold rinse costs only 4 cents per load. In addition, only run the dishwasher and laundry when you have a full load to get the most out your water usage.
Deal with small problems as soon as you notice them, to prevent them from becoming bigger problems later. Patch that tiny hole in your window screen before it gets larger. Don't ignore that annoying leak or running toilet.
A few dollars on prevention can save you hundreds –- if not thousands –- on costly cures. Clean the lint trap in your dryer, change the filter in your furnace and dust out those little vents under the fridge. Have your heating ducts and gutters cleaned annually. These tasks can be annoying and time-consuming, but they can save you from some costly repairs or replacements down the road.

As a broad rule of thumb, save 1 percent of your home's value towards maintenance and repair costs each year. For every $100,000 of home, in other words, set aside $1,000 annually. That may sound like a lot, but once you consider the cost of replacing the carpets and appliances every decade, and the windows, siding and roof every 25 years, you can see how quickly costs add up. And the more you can offset the need to conduct major repairs (e.g. patching that small roof leak before rot and mold develops), the more you can lower your ultimate bills.
Use reusable sponges, dusting rags or microfiber cloths rather than paper towels. Make your own green cleaning solutions from simple household products. Make sure you're not using more than you need to, especially with concentrated cleaning products. Institute policies like "no shoes in the house" to preserve the lifespan of your carpet and rugs.
All that unused stuff you're hanging onto could actually be turned into profit. Search through your closets, storage areas and shelves and weed out anything you haven't used in a while. You may be able to sell it at a garage sale or online, but even if you just donate it, you're still saving the time and money it would take to clean and maintain this extra stuff. Plus, your donation could turn into a tax deduction.
You know that you should turn off lights and appliances when they're not in use. But did you know you're also losing money if you leave appliances plugged in when they're not in use? This standby energy drain (also known as "phantom energy" from energy vampires, and it boosts the average American household's electricity costs by $100 each year. Unplug appliances when you're not using them (even that computer you think is in "sleep mode") or put them on a power strip to make it easier to turn off the whole room at once.
Food waste is a big budget drain. Guard against it by organizing your fridge and pantry by the expiration date of items-new cans of soup behind the old ones, older produce at the front of the crisper, leftovers front and center so you remember to eat them. Before you go shopping, review the items that are due to expire soon and develop a meal plan to use them while they're still good.
Fill your flowerbeds with perennials instead of annuals you'll need to replace each year. Use cuttings from the garden to fill vases and make centerpieces. Plant a kitchen garden to save on the cost of herbs like basil, mint and oregano.
Check out YouTube videos to learn how to handle small repairs yourself. Install your own wall sconces; repaint your living room; buff your hardwood floors. Watch home design shows to learn how to make your own curtains, storage solutions and built-in furniture. Find creative ways to reuse your old stuff, like turning that old set of floppy disks into drink coasters. Get creative and put in a little elbow grease, especially if you have a little extra time on your hands. You'll save a ton of money on labor costs and learn a few new skills in the process.
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