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Stocks retreat ahead of Apple, Fed; oil drop continues

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global equity markets retreated for a second straight session on Tuesday as investors were cautious ahead of earnings from Apple and a U.S. Federal Reserve policy statement, while crude prices slumped to multi-week lows on growing oversupply concerns.

The S&P 500 (.SPX) closed lower as investors awaited Apple earnings after the closing bell in an effort to gauge global demand. Investors were also bracing for the conclusion of the Fed's two-day meeting on Wednesday for signs on the timing of an interest rate hike.

"It’s an incredibly busy week, with the Fed tomorrow followed by GDP on Thursday. We are right in the heart of earnings and the market has just run 10 percent uninterrupted," said Patrick Schaffer, global investment specialist at JP Morgan Private Bank in Los Angeles.

"So ahead of a bellwether reporting tonight, why buy it?"

Prior to declines this week, the benchmark index had rallied more than 10 percent from the end of September.

European shares fell following a profit warning from BASF (BASFn.DE). The world's largest chemicals firm blamed struggling emerging markets like China and Brazil.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) fell 41.62 points, or 0.24 percent, to 17,581.43, the S&P 500 (.SPX) lost 5.29 points, or 0.26 percent, to 2,065.89 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) dropped 4.56 points, or 0.09 percent, to 5,030.15.

MSCI's all-country world index <.MIWD00000PUS> of the equity performance of 46 countries lost 0.57 percent, its second straight decline, while the pan-regional FTSEurofirst 300 (.FTEU3) index, tracking Europe's 300 largest companies, closed down 1 percent.

Markets are pricing in only around a 7 percent chance the U.S. central bank will raise rates this week and many market participants believe the Fed will hold off until 2016, but investors will be watching for signals the central bank might act at its next meeting in December.


Apple (AAPL.O) dipped 0.6 percent to $114.55 ahead of its results, with investors anxious to hear how many new phones it has been selling after supplier Manz (M5ZG.DE) cut its guidance.

Alibaba (BABA.N) shares climbed 4 percent to $79.44 after the China-focused e-commerce giant reported better-than-expected revenue.

But BASF, whose products range from car coatings to mining acids, blamed the pressures facing major emerging markets like China and Brazil for the profit warning that knocked its shares 5 percent lower.

Prices of 10-year Treasuries were up 8/32 to yield 2.0317 percent after a drop in durable goods orders for September was the latest data point to indicate the economy slowed in the third quarter.

Oil prices fell for a third straight day, with Brent touching a six-week low, as worries over persistent oversupply grew ahead of U.S. data that was expected to show another increase in crude inventories. Brent crude settled down 1.5 percent to $46.81 a barrel while U.S. crude settled 2.8 percent lower at $43.20.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was up 0.06 percent at 96.915 (.DXY). The greenback had briefly dipped into negative territory after a private gauge of U.S. consumer confidence unexpectedly fell in October.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Nick Zieminski)