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Dow, Tech Stocks Lower With Fed Decision in Focus; UK Reports First Omicron Death - Stock Market Today

Wall Street will try to extend last week's gains, the best since February, ahead of a crucial Fed meeting later this week and worrying developments in the spread of the Omicron variant.

U.S. stocks turned lower Monday as investors look ahead to a busy week of central bank meetings, including a key Federal Reserve decision on tapering, while closely tracking the quickening increase of Omicron infections around Europe.

Stocks pared earlier pre-market gains following a report from the United Kingdom of the first patient to die from an infection of the Omicron variant, which was first identified in the U.K. on Nov. 27.

The news followed a televised address from Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday, warning of a "tidal wave" of Omicron infections threatening the world's fifth-largest economy as he pushed for a faster take-up of booster shots as scientists raised their threat-level amid a surge of newly-identified cases.

Alongside the growing Omicron threat, the Fed is widely expected to accelerate the tapering of its monthly bond purchases when it concludes a two-day policy meeting Wednesday, particularly after Friday's data showing the fastest rate of consumer price inflation since 1982 last month. New Fed projections on growth and inflation may also cement market expectations of a June rate hike.

The Bank of England, the Bank of Japan and the European Central Bank will also issue policy statements this week, with concerns over the rising levels of Delta and Omicron infections likely to keep each of the three banks from signaling tighter conditions in the months again, adding to upward pressure on the U.S. dollar.

On Wall Street, a relatively quiet week in terms of corporate earnings will be supported by factory gate inflation data Tuesday, the Fed decision and November retail sales data Wednesday, and housing and weekly jobless claims data on Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was marked 335 points lower in the opening hours of trading, while the S&P 500 gave back 38 points from last week's gain, the strongest since February. 

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite fell slipped 175 points at even as benchmark 10-year Treasury note yields fell to 1.448% in early New York trading.

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Apple  (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report attempted to provide some early support as the stock looks set to test the $3 trillion market cap threshold this week following a Monday price target upgrade from JPMorgan, but was marked 0.9% lower in late-morning trading at $178.05 each.

Pfizer  (PFE) - Get Pfizer Inc. Report shares rose 5.2% after it said it would buy San Diego-based biotech Arena Pharmaceuticals  (ARNA) - Get Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Report for around $6.7 billion in cash. Arena surged 84% to $91.80 each.

The shares were given further support from a U.K. study that showed a third shot of the drugmaker's Covid vaccine provides solid protection against Omicron and analysts at UBS lifted their rating and price target. 

Novavax  (NVAX) - Get Novavax, Inc. Report shares jumped 1% after the drugmaker said it will file a package of data linked to its developing coronavirus vaccine with the U.S. Food & Drug Administration by the end of the year.

Rivian Automotive  (RIVN) - Get Rivian Automotive, Inc. Class A Report, meanwhile, gained 0.2% after all-electric Rivian R1T was crowned MotorTrend's 2022 Truck of the Year by the influential magazine over the weekend. 

Peloton Interactive  (PTON) - Get Peloton Interactive, Inc. Class A Report shares were also on the move after the at-home exercise company released a follow-up parody ad providing clarity that it’s Internet-connected exercise bikes don’t necessarily cause people to drop dead.

In overseas markets, Europe's Stoxx 600 was marked 0.44% lower by mid-the close of trading in Frankfurt, with tech and mining stocks leading the session's advance, while the Asia region MSCI ex-Japan index closed out the session with a 0.3% decline.

U.S. oil prices edged lower, pushed down by a stronger U.S. dollar and new data from OPEC showing cartel members boosted their November output by 290,000 barrels per day.

The report, however, also noted that OPEC sees global rising by 1.11 million to 99.13 million barrels per day over the first three months of next year, adding it only expects a "mild and short-lived" impact from the Omicron variant.

WTI futures for January delivery were marked 51 cents lower from Friday's close to change hands at $71.16 per barrel while Brent contracts for February, the global pricing benchmark, fell 58 cents to $74.57 per barrel.