By Tanya Agrawal
U.S. stocks extended losses in afternoon trading on Wednesday, with the S&P 500 headed for seventh day of losses as a tightening race for the White House rattled investors and a fall in oil prices also weighed.The last time the benchmark index posted a seven-day losing streak was in Nov. 2011.Investors are rethinking their long-held bets of a Nov. 8 victory for Democrat Hillary Clinton amid signs that her Republican rival Donald Trump could be closing the gap.While Clinton held a 5 percentage point lead over Trump, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday, some other polls showed her Republican rival ahead by 1-2 percentage points."The main driver for today is concerns regarding the election. It looked like Clinton was going to win and now that Trump is gaining momentum, it's making people nervous," said Neil Massa, senior equity trader at Manulife Asset Management in Boston."The market doesn't like uncertainty and just wants to know one way or another. The fall in crude oil isn't helping matters either."The CBOE Volatility Index, a gauge of near-term investor anxiety, was up about 4 percent. It had hit an almost two-month high on Tuesday.Gold was hovering near a one-month high, suggesting investor anxiety over the election.
The selloff in equities comes as the Fed holds its two-day policy meeting, with a statement due at 2 p.m. ET (1800 GMT).While traders do not expect the central bank to raise interest rates just a week before the election, they are looking for clues that the Fed is set to hike rates in December.Traders are pricing in a 73.6 percent chance of a December hike, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.At 13:17 p.m. ET the Dow Jones industrial average was down 66.12 points, or 0.37 percent, at 17,970.98.The S&P 500 was down 12.72 points, or 0.6 percent, at 2,099, slipping below an important technical level for the second straight day.
The Nasdaq Composite was down 42.31 points, or 0.82 percent, at 5,111.26.Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the energy index falling 1.15 percent.Oil prices tumbled 3 percent after a record weekly build in U.S. crude inventories stoked investor worries about a global supply glut. Oil has lost more than 10 percent in the last two weeks. [O/R]Chevron fell 1.2 percent and weighed the most on the Dow.
The rate-sensitive utilities index was down 1.32 percent and led the decliners.Brocade Communications was up 10.1 percent at $12.37 after chipmaker Broadcom said it would buy the company for $5.5 billion. Broadcom was up 1.5 percent at $171.28.Yelp jumped 10 percent to $35.73 after the consumer review website operator raised its full-year revenue forecast.Kate Spade and Estee Lauder fell 8.2 and 5.7 percent, respectively, after their quarterly sales missed estimates.Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,196 to 729. On the Nasdaq, 2,000 issues fell and 736 advanced.The S&P 500 index showed two new 52-week high and nine new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 15 new highs and 121 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Anil D'Silva)
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