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MARKET SNAPSHOT: U.S. Stocks Drop After Fed Minutes

By Kate Gibson, MarketWatch NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks furthered their fall Wednesday, with the S&P 500 extending a four-day losing streak, after the Federal Reserve released minutes from its past meeting, with investors failing to find a firmer read on additional stimulus. "I'd say for investors the Fed is largely irrelevant, as what is going on in the U.S. and around the world is a fiscal and not a monetary problem. It has to come from politicians, Congress and the president, and that's true globally. And so the Fed will be in the news today, and for a trader that has impact," said Gary M. Flam, portfolio manager at Bel Air Investment Advisors, drawing a distinction between investing for the longer term versus day trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) fell 90.14 points, or 0.7%, to 12,562.98, with 24 of its 30 components tallying losses. The S&P 500 (SPX) dropped 4.78 points, or 0.8%, to 1,336.69, with technology hardest hit and energy the best performer among the index's 10 sectors. Best Buy Co. (BBY) slid 7.9% after appliance and electronics retailer HHGregg Inc. (HGG) reduced its forecasts. "The earnings season is going to keep this market on edge, and of course the ongoing situation in euro land. We're disappointed by the fact the German high court pushed back the debate on the constitutionality of the stability funds -- that caused a little bit of anxiety in the European markets, although Spain's taking some hard measures is actually a positive," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. The Nasdaq Composite (RIXF) shed 24.92 points, or 0.9%, to 2,877.41. The recent selloff is "attracting less and less interest with current average volumes down by 6.3% while stocks have fallen by 1.7%," according to Andrew Wilkinson, chief economic strategist at Miller Tabak. Decliners ran just ahead of advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where 390 million shares traded as of 2:20 p.m. Eastern. "The fact that we have light volume is a negative in the sense [that] we'll have larger gyrations, but, when you size it up, we're stuck in a trading range of 2% to 4% over the next several weeks," said Cardillo.

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