NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The conclusion of the Federal Reserve's March meeting is still a day away but the potential outcome caused tremors on Wall Street during Tuesday's session. Investors have been fretting this past week over whether Fed Chair Janet Yellen will signal a rate hike sooner rather than later.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 recovered from the worst of the day, pulling back from losses of around 1% earlier but still closed in the red. The Dow slid 0.72% and the S&P 500 fell 0.34%.
Prepare for some bumpiness on Wednesday too, says one analyst.
"On Fed statement day, you typically get a whipsaw reaction as people try to digest the news," said Eric Mintz, portfolio manager at Eagle Asset Management, in a call. "I wouldn't be surprised if there was an initial knee-jerk move down."
In particular, economists will be keen to see whether the keyword "patient" might be removed from the statement, a move that would set into action a possible rate hike as soon as June.
"Even though the removal of 'patient' will be interpreted as a hawkish signal that a June rate hike remains on the table, Fed Chair Yellen could conceivably use the subsequent press conference to take some of the sting out of the market's reaction by reinforcing the data-dependency of the Fed's decision with regard to the timing and pace of liftoff," said TD Securities' head of U.S. rates and economic research Eric Green.
Crude oil recovered above $43 a barrel by the afternoon session. West Texas Intermediate crude was down 1.7% to $43.12 a barrel, though it bounced back from losses of more than 1% earlier.
The commodity had been under pressure after Iran's oil minister said on Monday that the country would increase production by 1 million barrels a day if international sanctions are lifted. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif are reportedly close to sealing a nuclear deal that could involve lifting sanctions.
The Nasdaq added 0.13%, pulled higher by Apple (AAPL) and Facebook (FB). Apple was up 1.8% on reports the tech giant could announce a Web TV offering as early as June, according to The Wall Street Journal. Facebook added nearly 2% after Brean Capital initiated coverage with a 'buy' rating and $96 price target. The firm said the company can harness growth opportunities in emerging markets.
Alibaba (BABA) was 0.54% higher after Stifel Nicolaus upgraded shares to "buy" from "hold" noting regulatory risk surrounding counterfeit items had subsided.
Retail fund Macerich (MAC) rejected a $16 billion bid from shopping-mall real estate company Simon Property (SPG) and adopted a poison pull to go into effect should anyone acquire more than a 10% stake. Macerich dropped 3.5% and Simon Property was down 0.5%.
Chipmaker Himax (HIMX) plummeted nearly 10% after Bank of America analysts downgraded the stock to "underperform" from "buy" and slashed price targets to $7. The firm said there has been little news of new products requiring microdisplays from big tech companies that would prove beneficial to Himax.
DSW (DSW) surged 4% after reporting a 7% increase in comparable-store sales over its fourth quarter. The footwear retailer reported earnings of 35 cents a share, 7 cents better than forecast, while sales spiked nearly 12%. Burlington Stores (BURL) popped 2.1% after beating analysts' estimates on its top- and bottom-line and after posting a nearly 7% increase in comparable-store sales during the fourth quarter.
Plug Power (PLUG) shares tumbled 4.9% after the fuel cell maker reported a wider-than-expected loss in the fourth quarter. The alternative energy company reported a net loss of 8 cents a share, double forecasts.