Belfast Telegraph

Stocks fall before Fed meeting as LinkedIn soars on buyout

US and global stocks fell for a third day on Monday, as concerned investors waited to see what the Federal Reserve would do with interest rates later this week.

LinkedIn shares jumped after Microsoft announced plans to buy the company.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 132.86 points, or 0.7%, to 17,732.48. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 17.01 points, or 0.8%, to 2,079.06 and the Nasdaq composite fell 46.11 points, or 0.9%, to 4,848.44.

The Federal Reserve had been expected to start raising interest rates, but now appears likely to remain in a wait-and-see mode. The central bank's two-day meeting will start on Tuesday, with a decision on interest rates on Wednesday afternoon. Fed Chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to hold a news conference after the interest rate decision.

While last month many investors were betting that the Fed would raise interest rates, the two most recent monthly jobs reports in the US have put a damper on those expectations.

Investors' lack of confidence that the Fed will raise rates could be seen in bonds and the US dollar. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note fell to 1.61% from 1.64% on Friday, its lowest yield so far this year. The dollar, while off its lows, is still also trading near its lows for the year against other major currencies.

Combined with the weight of the Fed decision, stocks, particularly in Europe, remain under pressure on investor concerns over whether Britain will choose to remain in the European Union in the June 23 referendum. Recent polls have shown the race is tight, with some polls showing a majority of British voters are in favour of exiting the EU.

"This week's Fed meeting feels like a bit of a sideshow, given the focus on Brexit and the market's appropriate belief that the Fed is unlikely to (raise) ahead of such an... event," said John Briggs, head of strategy for the Americas at RBS, in a note to investors.

Germany's DAX closed down 1.8%, France's CAC-40 fell 1.9% and the FTSE 100 fell 1.2%.

Shares of professional social networking site LinkedIn soared 61.13 US dollars, or 47%, to 192.21 US dollars after Microsoft announced it was purchasing the company for 26.2 billion US dollars (£18.5 billion) in cash. Shares of Microsoft fell 1.34 US dollars, or 2.6%, to 50.14 US dollars after the deal was announced.

Twitter shares jumped as well, up 53 cents, or 4%, to 14.55 US dollars on speculation that LinkedIn's buyout could mean better buyout prospects for that social media service.

Security software company Symantec jumped 91 cents, or 5%, to 18.21 US dollars after the company said it would purchase another security company, Blue Coat, for 4.6 billion US dollars (£3.2 billion). Blue Coat had plans to go public later this year. Symantec was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500.

In currencies, the dollar fell to 106.21 yen from 106.79 yen. The dollar fell slightly against the euro to 1.1291 US dollars and rose slightly against the pound to 1.423 US dollars.

US crude fell 19 cents to 48.88 US dollars a barrel. Brent crude, the benchmark for international oil prices, fell 19 cents to 50.35 US dollars a barrel in London. Oil prices had reached 11-month highs in the last few days.

In other energy commodities, heating oil was effectively unchanged at 1.515 US dollars a gallon, wholesale gasoline futures fell two cents to 1.536 US dollars a gallon and natural gas rose three cents to 2.585 US dollars per thousand cubic feet.

In the metals markets, gold rose 11.00 US dollars to 1,286.90 US dollars an ounce, silver rose 11 cents to 17.44 US dollars an ounce and copper rose two cents to 2.054 US dollars a pound.