December 14, 2016 / 4:33 PM / 2 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St slips as investors pause ahead of Fed decision

* Fed statement at 2 p.m. ET; Yellen presser 30 mins later

* Dow less than 1 pct away from 20,000 mark

* Express Scripts fall biggest drag on health index

* GM, Ford fall after news of potential China penalty

* Indexes down: Dow 0.15 pct, S&P 0.18 pct, Nasdaq 0.05 pct (Adds details, changes comment, updates prices)

By Tanya Agrawal

Dec 14 (Reuters) - The post-election rally in U.S. stocks took a breather on Wednesday, as investors turned their attention to the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting.

The Fed is widely tipped to lift rates 25 basis points, but investors are likely to pay close attention to Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s tone and new forecasts for clues on policymakers’ thinking on how President-elect Donald Trump’s policies will impact growth and inflation.

The announcement is due at 2 p.m. ET (1900 GMT), followed by Yellen’s news conference 30 minutes later.

However, concerns over a strengthening dollar linger with the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, hitting 14-year peaks last month.

“I don’t expect the market to see too much action one way or the other today,” said Michael Scanlon, managing director of Manulife Asset Management.

“The most important thing that investors will be looking at is the interpretation of the commentary from the Fed. I think the market is pricing in about two hikes for 2017 but if the Trump administration is able to reduce corporate taxes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see four hikes next year.”

At 11:00 a.m. ET (1600 GMT) the Dow Jones industrial average was down 29.08 points, or 0.15 percent, at 19,882.13, the S&P 500 was down 3.6 points, or 0.15847 percent, at 2,268.12 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.52 points, or 0.01 percent, at 5,463.31.

Ten of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with the energy index’s 0.56 percent fall leading the decliners.

Oil prices fell about 2 percent as glut worries resurfaced after a reported rise in U.S. crude inventories and as OPEC signaled a growing crude surplus next year unless production cuts are implemented.

The financial index declined 0.36 percent.

Wells Fargo fell 2.2 percent to $54.59 after the bank’s “living will” failed U.S. regulators’ assessment for a second time this year.

U.S. stocks have been on a tear since the election, fueled by expectations that Trump will reduce taxes and regulation and stimulate the economy.

The Dow, which has risen about 9 percent since Nov. 8, is less than a percent away from the 20,000 mark.

Meanwhile, U.S. retail sales barely rose in November as households cut back on purchases of motor vehicles. The Commerce Department said retail sales edged up 0.1 percent. Economists had forecast overall retail sales increasing 0.3 percent.

General Motors fell 3.1 percent to $36.24 and Ford declined 1.5 percent to $12.58 following a report that China will soon slap a penalty on an unnamed U.S. automaker for monopolistic behavior.

Hertz Global dropped 4.5 percent to $23.99 after the car rental company said on Tuesday it would replace its chief executive and reduce its board size.

Express Scripts fell 5.8 percent to $68.94. The pharmacy benefit manager signaled that scrutiny into drug pricing isn’t going away. The stock was the biggest drag on the health sector.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,709 to 1,089. On the Nasdaq, 1,718 issues fell and 923 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed 12 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 66 new highs and 28 new lows. (Reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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