* Oil prices hit lowest since late November
* Northeast snowstorm affects airline stocks
* Dow down 0.17 pct, S&P 500 down 0.32 pct, Nasdaq down 0.31
(Updates to late afternoon trading, changes comment, byline)
By Rodrigo Campos
March 14 U.S. stocks fell on Tuesday as oil
prices dropped to their lowest since November and airlines
pulled industrial stocks lower.
Health sector shares were volatile as traders digested a
nonpartisan research report that showed 14 million Americans
would lose medical insurance by next year under the Republican
plan to dismantle the Obamacare healthcare reform.
Trading volumes were light ahead of a Federal Reserve
statement due Wednesday in which the U.S. central bank is
expected to raise rates by 25 basis points.
Airline stocks slipped as a blizzard swept through the
heavily populated northeastern United States, grounding
thousands of flights. United Continental fell 4.7
percent to $66.55 while Southwest Airlines dropped 3.1
percent and American Airlines lost 2.8 percent.
Oil prices slid to three-month lows after OPEC reported a
rise in global crude inventories and a surprise jump in
production from its biggest member, Saudi Arabia, while it
raised its forecast of production in 2017 from outside the
group, suggesting complications in an effort to clear a glut and
The S&P energy sector was down 1.0 percent and was
on track to close at its lowest since Nov. 4. Chevron
was off 1.6 percent and was the biggest drag on the Dow and the
“None of the data you’re getting is good if you’re trying to
increase (crude) prices, it doesn’t look like oil supply is
diminishing,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst,
Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.
She said energy sector earnings have little upside potential
so their stocks’ underperformance is to be expected.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 39.26 points,
or 0.19 percent, to 20,842.22, the S&P 500 lost 8.28
points, or 0.35 percent, to 2,365.19 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 19.43 points, or 0.33 percent, to 5,856.35.
Valeant plunged 12.3 percent to $10.63 after
billionaire investor William Ackman said his hedge fund,
Pershing Square Capital, sold its entire stake in the company.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a
2.05-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.97-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 54 new highs and 58 new lows.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos)