Stocks moved slightly lower as another selloff in crude oil prices hit the energy sector.
Global growth in 2016 will likely be constrained, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde warned in comments to a German newspaper. Lagarde pointed to higher interest rates in the U.S. and a weaker Chinese economy as likely headwinds to global growth next year. Lagarde also conceded that higher U.S. interest rates were "necessary and healthy."
Crude oil extended its decline after weekly data from the Energy Information Administration showed an unexpected increase of 2.6 million barrels in crude stocks in the past week. Analysts had expected a decline in inventories. West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices fell 3.1% to $36.71 a barrel.
The energy sector was the worst performer in the markets Wednesday. Exxon Mobil (XOM) , Kinder Morgan (KMI) , Chevron (CVX) and Schlumberger (SLB) were all lower, while the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) fell 1%.
Pending home sales unexpectedly declined in November. The Pending Home Sales Index decreased 0.9% to 106.9 last month, continuing to contract after hitting a nine-year high in May. Economists had expected the measure to edge 0.5% higher.
Icahn Enterprises (IEP) and Pep Boys (PBY) have formally announced a $1.031 billion merger after much back and forth. Activist investor Carl Icahn's firm secured the deal for $18.50 a share and expects to close in the first quarter of next year. Bridgestone had previously been in the race for the auto shop chain but declined to raise its bid.