* Fed rate decision due at 2:00 p.m. ET
* Energy shares drop as oil prices tumble
* Financials drop on weak retail sales, CPI data
* Dow up 0.03 pct, S&P down 0.11 pct, Nasdaq down 0.05 pct
(Updates to early afternoon)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
June 14 Wall Street was slightly lower on
Wednesday as a drop in oil prices weighed on energy stocks,
while weak economic data took a toll on bank shares ahead of a
widely expected interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve.
Oil prices fell to their lowest in more than five weeks
after data showed a surprise buildup in U.S. gasoline
inventories and a report from the International Energy Agency
(IEA) projected an increase in non-OPEC production.
The S&P 500 energy sector sank 2.4 percent, led by
declines in Exxon and Chevron.
Financials fell 1.3 percent after
weaker-than-expected retail sales and consumer prices data
raised questions about the Fed's ability to further tighten
While traders continued to see a more than 93 percent chance
for the Fed to raise rates at the end of the two-day meeting on
Wednesday, they dialed back the odds of a third hike this year.
"With the weak data, you start to wonder why the Fed is so
bent on raising rate. It seems they should be doing the
opposite," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston
The Fed meeting could also provide details on the central
bank's plans to trim its $4.5 trillion balance sheet.
"In my view there's no question that we'll get a rate hike
at 2 p.m." said Frances Donald, senior economist at Manulife
Asset Management in Toronto.
"What matters most in today's statement is how the Fed
signals the next rate hike and perhaps, even more critically,
the reduction in the balance sheet."
At 12:25 p.m. ET (1625 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial
Average was up 6.72 points, or 0.03 percent, at
21,335.19. The index had hit an all-time high of 21,354.56
earlier in the session.
The S&P 500 was down 2.85 points, or 0.11 percent, at
2,437.5 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 3.37 points,
or 0.05 percent, at 6,217.00.
Gains in defensive sectors like consumer staples
and utilities helped contain losses on the indexes.
Johnson & Johnson rose 0.8 percent to $133.14 after
the company's flu drug succeeded in a mid-stage trial.
Alexion was up 8.4 percent at $117.23 after the
biotechnology company named Biogen's Chief Financial
Officer Paul Clancy as its CFO. Biogen's stock was down 3.4
H&R Block was the biggest percentage gainer on the
S&P 500, rising 9.3 percent to $29.50 after the tax preparation
service provider's fourth-quarter revenue and profit beat
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,563
to 1,330. On the Nasdaq, 1,604 issues fell and 1,169 advanced.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru, additional
reporting by Sinead Carew in New York; Editing by Anil D'Silva)