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US Stocks Fall Sharply Wednesday       01/27 09:31

   Stocks were broadly lower in early trading on Wall Street on Wednesday, as 
investors focus on the Federal Reserve's policy meeting and the outlook for the 
economy as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.

   (AP) -- Stocks were broadly lower in early trading on Wall Street on 
Wednesday, as investors focus on the Federal Reserve's policy meeting and the 
outlook for the economy as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.

   The S&P 500 was down 1.5% in early trading, dragged lower by technology 
stocks like Amazon and Facebook as well as materials and energy stocks. The Dow 
Jones Industrial Average was down 1.5% as well, while the Nasdaq composite was 
down 1.1%.

   Investors are waiting to hear from the Federal Reserve at around 2 p.m. 
Eastern Time today. The Fed is expected to keep its extremely supportive policy 
stance unchanged given the slow progress in vanquishing the pandemic, analysts 
said.

   Along with the Fed, this is the busiest week so far of quarterly earnings 
reporting season for U.S. companies. Apple and Facebook will report their 
quarterly results after Wednesday's closing bell.

   More than 100 companies in the S&P 500 are scheduled to tell investors this 
week how they fared during the last three months of 2020. As a whole, analysts 
expect S&P 500 companies to say their fourth-quarter profit fell 5% from a year 
earlier. That's a milder drop than the 9.4% they were forecasting earlier this 
month, according to FactSet.

   Shares of GameStop soared 90% in early trading, as the video game retailer 
remains in a tug-of-war with Wall Street institutions and an activist community 
of mostly online investors. The online investors have bet that hedge funds have 
put too much money betting against the stock --- a concept known as selling 
"short." A pair of professional investment firms that placed big bets that 
GameStop's stock would crash have largely abandoned their positions.

   Markets have meandered since last week as investors weighed solid corporate 
earnings results against renewed worries that troubles with COVID-19 vaccine 
rollouts and the spread of new variants of coronavirus might delay a recovery 
from the pandemic.

   With the virus spreading like "wildfire" in parts of the world, the first 
half of the year might be "lost," Stephen Innes of Axi said in a commentary. " 
Some are even concerned that vaccines may not prove useful enough to eradicate 
the virus. And these concerns will continue to linger over markets like a dark 
cloud until vaccine distributions get ironed out, and a definitive drop in 
contagion levels can thoroughly support the vaccine efficacy results."

   The reality that President Joe Biden's $1.9 billion stimulus package won't 
be "rubber stamped" by the U.S. Senate is also weighing on sentiment, Jeffrey 
Halley of Oanda said in a report.

   The fate of Biden's plan to send $1,400 to most Americans and deliver other 
support for the economy remains uncertain given the slim majority of the 
Democrats in the Senate. But on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer 
said Democrats are prepared to push ahead with the relief package, even if it 
means using procedural tools to pass the legislation without Republicans.

 
 
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