U.S. stocks opened lower on Tuesday, as markets were jittery ahead of the Federal Reserve''s highly anticipated policy statement, expected on Wednesday.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.02%, the S&P 500 index fell 0.21%, while the Nasdaq Composite index slipped 0.25%.
The Department of Labor said consumer prices were flat in November after falling 0.1% in October.
The annual rate of inflation rose 1.2% last month, undershooting expectations for an increase of 1.3%, but was up from a four year low of 1.0% in October.
But market sentiment remained subdued ahead of the outcome of the Fed''s two-day policy meeting on Wednesday, with some expecting the bank to announce a small reduction in the pace of its USD85 billion-a-month asset purchase program.
In the financial sector, Citigroup fell 0.28% after the U.S. lender sold its Metalmark Capital private-equity unit to comply with the Volcker Rule. According to a statement, Citigroup will keep limited-partner interests in the Metalmark Capital Partners II fund.
Separately, private-equity firm KKR & Co. agreed to buy the publicly traded credit business KKR Financial Holdings in a USD2.6 billion transaction. Shares in KKR Financial Holdings skyrocketed 23.70% following the news.
Among pharmaceutical companies, U.S.-traded GlaxoSmithKline shares tumbled 1.50% following reports the firm will stop paying doctors to promote its medicines after Chinese officials accused the U.K. drugmaker of bribing physicians, a year after the company admitted to similar offenses in the U.S.
Elsewhere, Caesars Entertainment, down 2.76%, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, down 0.90%, reportedly decided to jointly promote their customer loyalty programs, offering guests an incentive to spend more on rooms, shows and meals with both companies.
Other stocks likely to be in focus included FactSet, Sanderson Farms and Verifone, scheduled to release quarterly earnings later in the day.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were lower. The EURO STOXX 50 declined 0.63%, France’s CAC 40 tumbled 0.94%, Germany''s DAX shed 0.38%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 slid 0.43%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index fell 0.20%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index gained 0.83%.
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