Microsoft drags Wall Street, Fed meet awaited

The Microsoft Corporation headquarters at Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris, France, on April 18, 2016.
The Microsoft Corporation headquarters at Issy-les-Moulineaux, near Paris, France, on April 18, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Wall Street opened lower for the third straight trading day, pulled down by Microsoft, ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting starting Tuesday.

Microsoft was the biggest drag on all three major indexes after the software company agreed to buy LinkedIn for US$26.2 billion (S$35.6 billion). Microsoft stock fell 4.5 per cent to US$49.18 while LinkedIn jumped 47 per cent to US$193.13.

Nine of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower with the information technology index's 0.62 per cent fall leading the decliners. Facebook was down 1.4 per cent at US$114.99 after CNBC said Citron Research was short on the stock.

The U.S. Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday to decide when to raise interest rates for the second time in nearly a decade.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who had been dropping hints of a rate hike most of last month, was more vague last week on its timing after dismal May hiring data and a possible Brexit raised concerns about the strength of the economy.

Traders have reduced the odds of a hike this month to 1 percent and the one in July to 33 percent, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.

Banks, which stand to benefit most if the Fed raises interest rates, were lower at the open on Monday. Bank of America Citigroup and JPMorgan were off about 1 percent.

At 9.44am ET (9.44pm in Singapore), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 53.07 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 17,812.27.

The S&P 500 was down 5.78 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 2,090.29 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 22.03 points, or 0.45 per cent, at 4,872.52.

"There is nothing much the Fed can do after the May employment data and the non-manufacturing data came in very very poor. So they'll try and spin it as 'We just have to wait and see how things develop'," said John Brady, managing director of institutional sales at R.J. Brien & Associates in Chicago.

The impending vote to determine if Britain will remain in the European Union added to the uncertainty.