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US: Stocks fall as strong US dollar hits oil, metals shares

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[NEW YORK] US stocks fell Tuesday, with commodities producers among the biggest losers as hawkish commentary from two Federal Reserve officials lifted the US dollar.

US monetary policy was back in focus after the presidents of the Cleveland and Richmond branches of the Fed both argued the need for the Fed to soon lift interest rates in light of growth and inflation trends.

The comments helped boost the US dollar, denting commodities traded in the US currency, including oil, copper and gold. Dow members ExxonMobil and Chevron both lost about one per cent, while Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining plunged 11.2 per cent and 10.1 per cent, respectively.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.5 per cent at 18,168.45.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.5 per cent to 2,150.49, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.2 per cent to 5,289.66.

Banking shares were mostly higher on raised expectations for a Federal Reserve interest rate increase, helped by the comments from the Fed policy-makers. JPMorgan rose 0.9 per cent, Bank of America 1.1 per cent and Citigroup 1.5 per cent.

Google parent Alphabet advanced 0.5 per cent as it launched new premium-priced smartphones, along with new products in virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Shareholders of Apple, whose iPhone is one of the targets of the Google effort, appeared unfazed; Apple shares rose 0.4 per cent.

Cloud computing company Salesforce rose 3.0 per cent on news it acquired the data management platform Krux for US$340 million plus a still-to-be-determined number of Salesforce shares worth at least US$195 million.