This story was updated at 4 p.m. EDT
U.S. stocks closed lower Monday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average shedding roughly 60 points as investors look ahead to the Federal Reserve’s highly anticipated two-day policy meeting this week. Policymakers will debate whether to raise U.S. interest rates, which would mark the first increase in nearly a decade.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) lost 62.13 points, or 0.38 percent, to close at 16,370.96. The Standard & Poor's 500 index (INDEXSP:.INX) edged down 8.03 points, or 0.41 percent, to end at 1,953.02. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) fell 16.58 points, or 0.34 percent, to finish at 4,805.76.
Nine of the 10 S&P 500 sectors closed lower, led by a more than 1 percent decline in material stocks. Utilities was the only gainer, up around 0.25 percent. Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) led the Dow lower, losing 1.2 percent.
Meanwhile, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) gained 1 percent, to close at $115.31, on news of strong demand for the new iPhone from the world’s most valuable company. The company said the iPhone 6S is on pace to top last year's iPhone record sales for the first weekend.
"Customer response to iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus has been extremely positive, and preorders this weekend were very strong around the world," the company said in a statement. "We are on pace to beat last year's 10 million-unit first-weekend record when the new iPhones go on sale Sept. 25."
Economists are preparing for the Fed’s two-day policy meeting, which kicks off Wednesday, followed by a statement from the Federal Open Market Committee at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday. Fed Chair Janet Yellen will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. Thursday following that statement, and investors will look for clues to the timing of the Fed’s rate hike.
Uncertainty surrounding whether the U.S. central bank will announce an interest rate hike this week weighed on global stocks and sent Asian shares sharply lower Monday. China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite index finished down 2.7 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei index closed down 1.6 percent.
Most economists had previously anticipated the central bank would announce lifting rates for the first time since 2006 as early as this month. However, global shares have reacted violently in recent weeks on renewed concerns about China's economy decelerating faster than predicted.
China also released more economic data over the weekend, showing retail sales in August came in better than expected, but both industrial production and fixedasset investment reported below estimates, signaling softening economic growth.
European stocks traded mixed following Asia’s weak lead, sending Germany's DAX and France's CAC down 0.1 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.
The market-implied probability suggests a less than 1-in-3 chance of a rate hike, but economists at PNC Asset Management Group forecast the probability is greater than 50 percent.
“While financial market volatility (VIX) ended last week at about half the peak level in late August, it is still elevated from levels earlier this year, complicating the Fed’s decision on Thursday and the market’s ability to predict the Fed’s actions with any confidence,” Bill Stone, chief investment strategist at PNC Asset Management Group, said in a research note.
The U.S. dollar rose against major currencies Monday, with the euro trading just under $1.13, while the yield on a 10-year Treasury note traded flat.
Some experts say the bulk of the dollar’s rise has occurred in anticipation of higher rates, and post-hike dollar strength might not be so significant. “We remain bullish of the dollar but the bulk of the gains in this cycle seems to be behind us, not in front of us. We do not expect the Fed to hike rates this Thursday. Our preference is still for December,” Steven Barrow, head of G10 strategy at Standard Bank, said in a note.
Market professionals will be eyeing a series of data points ahead of the Fed’s meeting this week. Retail sales for August, due out Tuesday, likely reflected a pickup in August, while consumer inflation, released Wednesday, is expected to decline by 0.1 percent. Meanwhile, housing starts, scheduled for Thursday, are expected to ease from last month while permits are anticipated to pick up.