Fading Investor Confidence, Mixed Corporate Earnings Rattle U.S. Stocks

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The impact of the Federal Reserve’s decision to leave lending rates unchanged at its last policy meeting continues to rattle U.S. shares, while a mixed bag of corporate earnings for the second quarter has not helped matters.

Outside the U.S., investors are seeing more reasons to worry about the future of the global economy. The Reserve Bank of Australia stunned many with its move to cut interest rates to a record low of 1.5%, indicating that economic uncertainty could be here much longer than some investors may have thought.

Though the majority of analysts now expect a smaller decline in second quarter corporate earnings than previously guided, investors aren’t seeing many incentives to buy stocks.

Weakening crude oil and iPath S&P GSCI Crude Oil Total Return (NYSEARCA:OIL) prices have also doused interest in stocks. U.S. oil prices tanked 1.4% to trade at $39.51 a barrel on Tuesday. The loss comes after oil prices pulled back more than 20% the previous day amid growing concern that crude oil and gasoline inventory build-up in the U.S. could set off another global supply glut that could destroy the price of the commodity again.

Crude oil prices had only started to recover after a prolonged period of weakness caused by oversupply of the commodity in the global market and OPEC’s failure to freeze output.

How did the U.S. major indexes fare?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average 2 Minute (INDEXDJX:.DJI) declined 0.5% after shedding 91 points to close at 18314. Tuesday’s session saw the blue-chip index print its longest session losses in nearly a year.

The S&P 500 (INDEXSP:.INX) pulled back 0.6%, weighed down mostly by losses in consumer-discretionary sector. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (NYSE:RCL) led the sector lower with a 6.3% decline following its move to cut 2016 earnings guidance.

Department store stocks in the S&P 500 also drifted south in Tuesday’s trading with Macy’s Inc (NYSE:M), Kohl’s Corporation (NYSE:KSS) and Nordstrom, Inc. (NYSE:JWN) falling more than 7%.

NASDAQ Composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) also skidded 0.9%, but losses in the index were limited by gains in its biotechnology sector. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index gained 0.2%, led by gains at Biogen Inc (NASDAQ:BIIB), whose shares rose 9.4% after it was reported that the company could be a takeover target by pharma giants such as Allergan plc (NYSE:AGN) and Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK).

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