US STOCKS-Wall Street falls ahead of Fed statement, Yellen comments

miércoles 18 de marzo de 2015 12:28 GYT

* Indexes down: Dow 0.6 pct, S&P 0.4 pct, Nasdaq 0.3 pct

* Alibaba shares little changed as lockup expires

* FedEx falls after lower outlook

* U.S. crude futures hit fresh 6-year low (Updates prices, changes comment)

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, March 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday ahead of a highly anticipated statement and news conference by the Federal Reserve later in the session, with the Fed seen giving clearer clues on how soon it plans to tighten monetary policy.

Shares were off their lows as utilities, expected to suffer if interest rates rise, and energy companies, recently hurt by lower crude prices, were the unexpected leaders of the session.

The U.S. central bank is expected to provide indications on the timing of its first interest rate hike in nearly a decade, as its two-day meeting ends later in the day. The Fed is assessing if the U.S. economic recovery can hold up against collapsing oil prices and a soaring dollar.

A statement is due at 2:00 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), with a press conference by Fed Chair Janet Yellen half an hour later.   Continuación...