Wall Street falls on Fed statement, energy
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Wall Street falls on Fed statement, energy

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq closed slightly lower after a US Federal Reserve statement, and energy stocks were the biggest drag on the S&P as US crude oil prices fell.

The US central bank said after its two-day meeting that strong job gains and household spending were keeping the economy on track but business investment "moderated from its rapid pace earlier in the year," creating a possible drag on future economic growth.

Wall Street's rally ran out of puff on Thursday.

Wall Street's rally ran out of puff on Thursday. Credit:AP

Aside from the comment about business investments, the Fed statement was largely as expected and suggested to investors that the Fed's next rate hike would be in December. But some investors had hoped for a change in tone after October's market sell-off.

"The Fed has recognised that there is one part of the economy that is slowing a little bit, but it is not deterring them from their 'gradual increase' language. Not yet anyway," said Jamie Cox, managing partner at Harris Financial Group, Richmond, Virginia.

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"There is really nothing to point to what the market had hoped, that there would be a more dovish stance. So I think this is more of what we call a hawkish hold."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 10.92 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 26,191.22, the S&P 500 lost 7.06 points, or 0.25 per cent, to 2,806.83 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 39.87 points, or 0.53 per cent, to 7,530.89.

The three indexes had all risen two per cent in the previous day's session due to a relief rally once the US midterm congressional elections were in the rear view mirror.

Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial in Newark, New Jersey said companies were holding off on spending because of uncertainty over a US-China trade war.

"A slowdown in business spending can slow the underpinning of the stock market," Krosby said.

"Is the Fed data-dependent or is it maintaining a rigid schedule for rate hikes in 2019? What would cause the Fed to pause? It's clear from this statement today that they're looking at anything that could potentially slow the economy."

The S&P bank index ended the day with a 0.4 per cent gain as US Treasury yields rose because bank profits benefit from rising rates.

Energy stocks were the S&P's biggest drag with a 2.2 per cent drop as US crude oil futures confirmed a bear market, falling more than 20 per cent from their October 3 high as investors focused on swelling global crude supply, which is increasing more quickly than many had expected.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Saudi Arabia's top government-funded think-tank is studying the possible effects on oil markets of a breakup of OPEC in a story citing unnamed people familiar with the matter.

On US exchanges 7.23 billion shares changed hands compared with the 8.43 billion average for the last 20 sessions.

Reuters