NEW YORK (Mar 12): U.S. stocks ended lower for a second straight session on Wednesday as worries grew about the timing of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike and dollar strength further dampened the outlook for U.S. earnings.
The move followed the S&P 500's biggest one-day decline in two months in the previous session, which surpassed a selloff of similar magnitude on Friday. The S&P 500 is now off 3.6 percent from its March 2 record closing high and is down 0.9 percent for the year so far.
Friday's stronger-than-expected jobs report, which solidified views the Fed could raise rates as early as June, was largely behind the recent jitters.
"It's all about rates. I think many are holding onto the view that if the Fed raises rates, stocks stop in their tracks and reverse, and the bull market ends," said Bruce Zaro, chief technical strategist at Bolton Global Asset Management in Boston.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 27.55 points, or 0.16 percent, to 17,635.39, the S&P 500 lost 3.92 points, or 0.19 percent, to 2,040.24 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 9.85 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,849.94.
The dollar extended its gains against the euro, following the start of the European Central Bank's 1.1 trillion euro bond-buying program. The euro fell 1.5 percent to trade near $1.05 for the first time in 12 years and the single currency is down 12 percent against the greenback since January.
The dollar's sharp rise has added to worries the currency will continue to weigh on U.S. multinationals' earnings.
"The dollar continues to strengthen. That's a double-edged kind of development in that it will lead to more investor interest in the United States, but on the other hand, it hampers the ability of U.S. multinationals to compete overseas," said John Carey, portfolio manager at Pioneer Investment Management in Boston.
S&P 500 earnings are now expected to decline 2.7 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, Thomson Reuters data showed.
Shares of Tyson Foods were down 5.6 percent at $37.55 and Pilgrims Pride Corp dropped 4.4 percent. The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the discovery of highly pathogenic avian influenza in a commercial turkey flock in Arkansas.
After the bell, shares of major banks were active following the Fed's review of their capital plans. Shares of Bank of America were down about 1 percent after the Fed approved its capital plans but directed the bank to address process weaknesses.
Shares of Citigroup jumped 3.1 percent to $53.95 while Morgan Stanley gained 3.1 percent to $36.02.
Also after the close, Shake Shack fell 6.5 percent to $43.85 following the release of its results.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,769 to 1,275; on the Nasdaq, 1,546 issues rose and 1,172 fell.
About 6.6 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 6.6 billion average for the month to date, according to data from BATS Global Markets.