Stocks are sliding ahead of the Fed's big announcement (DJI, INX, IXIC, GLD, USO, OIL)

janet yellen federal reserve REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Stocks opened lower ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee’s policy statement on Wednesday afternoon, followed by Fed chair Janet Yellen’s press conference at 2:30 ET.

Near 10:00 a.m., the Dow was down 82 points, the S&P 500 was down 7 points, and the Nasdaq was down 17 points.

Investors are watching whether the FOMC will remove the word “patient” from its statement, signaling that a rate hike may come as soon as June. The yield on the 10-year treasury note is three basis points lower at 2.02%. 

It’s another ugly day for oil. West Texas Intermediate crude is down by over 2% to around $ 44.16 per barrel, following the latest data on US crude oil inventories from the Energy Information Administration. According to the EIA, inventories rose by 9.6 million barrels last week, from 4.5 million. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected an increase of 3.8 million barrels. And inventories at Cushing, Oklahoma grew by 2.865 million to hit a record high.

On Tuesday, oil fell below $ 43 per barrel, its lowest level in six years, after data from the American Petroleum Institute showed that US production is still surging; inventories rose by 10.5 million barrels last week to 450 million, outpacing the expectation for a rise by 3.8 million barrels.

Gold was little changed at around $ 1148.60 an ounce after touching a four-month low on Tuesday. “The yellow metal, a non-interest yielding asset, has dropped nearly 3 percent this year on expectations of a US rate hike as the dollar goes from strength to strength on speculation that the Fed is becoming impatient,” analysts at Accendo Markets wrote.

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