U.S. Stocks Decline As Investors Await Fed Minutes

U.S. stocks fell, after a four-day loss for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, amid concern over earnings and as investors awaited minutes of last month’s Federal Reserve meeting for signs of further stimulus measures.

DuPont Co. and Google Inc. (GOOG) fell more than 1.7 percent to pace declines among the largest companies. Best Buy Co. dropped 4.8 percent after appliance and electronics retailer Hhgregg Inc. (HGG) cut its forecasts. Chevron Corp. and Exxon Mobil Corp. rose more than 0.8 percent as oil rebounded from the lowest close in more than a week. JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) added 0.9 percent to pace an advance in banks.

The S&P 500 fell 0.2 percent to 1,338.79 at 10:55 a.m. in New York. The benchmark gauge retreated 2.4 percent over the past four days amid concern about corporate profits. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 57.45 points, or 0.5 percent, to 12,595.67 today. Trading in S&P 500 companies was down 9.7 percent from the 30-day average at this time of day.

“The Fed minutes are the most significant event today,” Stephen Wood, the New York-based chief market strategist for North America for Russell Investments, said in a phone interview. His firm oversees $140.8 billion. “The minutes are probably going to show a significant soft patch in the economy and likely communicate that the Fed is ready, willing and able to provide further accommodation should the data warrant it.”

The Fed is scheduled to release the minutes of its June meeting at 2 p.m. in Washington. The Federal Open Market Committee said on June 20 it will expand its Operation Twist program to extend the maturities of assets on its balance sheet, and it stands ready to take further action as needed. The central bank also repeated that economic conditions will probably warrant keeping its benchmark interest rate near zero until at least late 2014.