* Oil prices hit lowest since late November
* Northeast snowstorm affects airline stocks
* Dow down 0.21 pct, S&P 500 down 0.34 pct, Nasdaq down 0.32
(Updates to close)
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 down as a blizzard hit the U.S.
Hospital operator shares were hit after a nonpartisan
research report showed 14 million Americans would lose medical
insurance by next year under a Republican proposal.
Trading volume was light ahead of a Federal Reserve
statement due on Wednesday in which the U.S. central bank is
expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points.
Airline stocks dropped 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 3.0
percent and American Airlines lost 2.7 percent.
Oil prices slid to the lowest since late November after OPEC
reported a rise in global crude inventories and 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 fell 1.1 percent to close at
its lowest since Nov. 4. Chevron was off 1.8 percent and
was the biggest drag on the Dow and the S&P 500.
“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
at 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 44.11 points,
or 0.21 percent, to 20,837.37, the S&P 500 lost 8.02
points, or 0.34 percent, to 2,365.45 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 18.97 points, or 0.32 percent, to 5,856.82.
About 6.23 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges,
compared with the 6.93 billion daily average over the last 20
Shares of hospital operators fell after the U.S.
Congressional Budget Office forecast that 14 million Americans
would lose medical insurance by next year under a Republican
plan to dismantle Obamacare.
Among hospital stocks, HCA Holdings slipped 1.5
percent, Tenet Healthcare fell 3.3 percent, Community
Health Systems shed 2.2 percent and LifePoint Health
was down 1.5 percent.
Valeant plunged 10.1 percent to $10.89 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
1.99-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.09-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and 4 new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 55 new highs and 60 new lows.
(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Dan Grebler)