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US: Stocks fall, oil shares hit

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks dropped early Tuesday ahead of a Federal Reserve monetary policy decision as oil prices fell again, hitting petroleum-linked shares.

The Fed is expected to raise interest rates at the conclusion of the two-day monetary policy meeting Wednesday. Higher interest rates typically weigh on stocks.

Analysts also have pointed to the retreat in oil prices as a source of unease in equity markets. The US benchmark slipped further below US$50 a barrel on Tuesday on worries about higher supplies.

About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 20.869.71, down 0.1 per cent.

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The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.2 per cent to 2,367.70, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 0.3 per cent to 5,857.85.

Petroleum-linked shares fell, with Chevron losing 1.2 per cent and Halliburton 3.2 per cent.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International plunged 9.8 per cent after activist investor Bill Ackman's fund, Pershing Square Capital Management, announced it was exiting the investment.

Pershing Square said it took a "large tax loss" on the investment, which consumed a "disproportionately large" portion of the hedge fund's "time and resources."