Blue-Chip Index Pulls Back; S&P Brushes Off Fresh Record High

Stocks careened lower this afternoon, as investors held their breath over the Federal Reserve's economic policy decision tomorrow, with many fearing that interest rates could continue to rise. The Dow snapped its seven-day streak with a 127-point drop, pulling back from all-time highs. Similarly, the S&P 500 also fell from grace, despite earlier setting a new intraday record. The tech-heavy Nasdaq, meanwhile, was the only benchmark able to hold onto modest gains. 

In other news, traders largely brushed off worse-than-expected retail sales data for February, after January data was revised upward to show a 7.6% jump. What's more, Wall Street's "fear gauge," the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), dropped to its lowest level in more than a year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 32,825.95) fell 127.5 points or 0.4% for the day. Amgen (AMGN) led the Dow components with a 1.9% rise, while Boeing (BA) paced the laggards, falling 3.9%.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 Index (SPX - 3,962.71dropped 6.2 points, or 0.2% for the day. The Nasdaq Composite (IXIC - 13,471.57added 11.9 points, or 0.09% for the day.

Lastly, the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX - 19.79) fell 0.2 point or 1.2% for the day.

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OIL EXTENDS LOSSES; GOLD NOTCHES TWO-WEEK HIGH

Oil prices registered their third-consecutive loss on Tuesday, as investors anticipated a rise in crude supplies for the fourth-straight week, in the aftermath of the Texas winter storms. Specifically, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted a 400,000 barrel increase for the week ending on March 12. As a result, April-dated crude fell 59 cents, or 0.9%, to settle at $64.80 per barrel.

Gold prices notched their highest level in two weeks, however. The yellow metal got a boost from the anticipation surrounding the upcoming Fed decision. The commodity also benefitted from new data that showed retail sales and industrial production declining for February. In turn, April-dated gold added $1.70, or 0.1%, to settle at $1,730.90 an ounce.

Disclaimer: Schaeffer's Investment Research ("SIR" or "we" or "us") is not registered as an investment adviser. SIR relies upon the "publishers' ...

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