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Overnight Markets: Wall Street dips ahead of Fed statement

Valeant Pharmaceuticals plunged 52%, after the Canadian drugmaker cut guidance for the current quarter.

Overnight Markets: Wall Street dips ahead of Fed statement

US stocks closed mostly lower on Tuesday, weighed by a rout in oil prices and a string of lacklustre economic data, amid a two-day meeting of Federal Reserve officials that began Tuesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 22 points, or 0.13%, to 17,251, the S&P 500 lost four points, or 0.18%, to 2,016 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 22 points, or 0.45%, to 4,729.

Stocks fell under pressure early due to soft retail sales data. Sales at US retailers dipped in February, and January turned out to be more disappointing than initially estimated, new government figures showed on Tuesday.

But a reading of New York-area manufacturing conditions improved markedly in March, a sign that the factory sector could be stabilising.

Investors were hesitant to make big bets before the Federal Open Market Committee’s two-day meeting, which is slated to conclude with a policy decision on Wednesday.

Consumer-staples, utilities, telecommunications services and tech were the only sectors to finish in positive territory.

In company news, shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. plunged 52%, after the Canadian drugmaker cut guidance for the current quarter. Other pharmaceutical companies also declined. Mallinckrodt lost 15%, while Eli Lilly & Co. dropped 3.6%.

Apple Inc. closed up 2% after Morgan Stanley said demand for the iPhone for the first quarter of 2016 is tracking ahead of analysts’ expectations.

FactSet Inc. ended 5.3% down despite reporting that profit rose 10% in the latest quarter, as the financial information provider notched sales gains amid a higher user base.

Avon Products Inc. finished down 8.2% after announcing on Monday that it would cut around 2,500 jobs and shift its corporate headquarters to the United Kingdom.

In Asia, shares were mixed on Wednesday in morning trade, following a weaker finish on Wall Street overnight as traders await the Fed decision due later.

The Australian S&P/ASX 200 was nearly flat, while Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 shed 0.51%. Across the Korean Strait, the Kospi was up 0.31%.

Chinese markets opened slightly higher, with the Shanghai composite up 0.13% and the Shenzhen composite up 0.17%. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index gained 0.14%.

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