Stocks are sliding ahead of the Fed's big announcement

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 fell by more than 2% to around $US44.28 per barrel. On Tuesday, it fell further below $US43 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 of 3.8 million barrels.

At 10:30 a.m., the Energy Information Administration will give its weekly report on petroleum inventories.

Gold was little changed at around $US1148.60 an ounce after touching a four-month low on Tuesday. “The yellow metal, a non-interest yielding asset, has dropped nearly 3 per cent 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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