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US stocks end lower ahead of Federal Reserve meeting

US stocks on Monday finished lower again as investors anxiously awaited a busy week of economic news that includes a US Federal Reserve policy meeting.

NEW YORK: US stocks on Monday finished lower again as investors anxiously awaited a busy week of economic news that includes a US Federal Reserve policy meeting.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 41.23 points (0.26 percent) to 15,837.88, the fifth consecutive session in negative territory.

The broad-based S&P 500 declined 8.73 points (0.49 percent) to 1,781.56, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gave up 44.56 points (1.08 percent) at 4,083.61.

Stocks fell sharply last week on concerns about weak corporate earnings and uncertainty in emerging economies.

Investors are "anxious," said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at S&P Capital IQ. "People feel as if they got caught off guard" last week.

Key events this week include major earnings reports from Apple, Boeing and other giants. The Fed will conclude a two-day policy meeting Wednesday.

"We don't know whether it's a short-term blip that will bounce back, or whether indeed it's beginning to tell us that our GDP growth and earnings projections are too high," Stovall said.

Technology stocks suffered, including Google (-2.0 percent), Dow component Microsoft (-2.1 percent), Twitter (-6.2 percent) and Yahoo (-3.3 percent).

Dow component Caterpillar shares shot up 5.9 percent after handily beating forecasts in its fourth-quarter earnings, with net income rising 43.9 percent to $1.0 billion and earnings per share at $1.54 per share, compared with the $1.28 expected by analysts.

Another Dow member, Merck, tacked on 1.1 percent after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock on expectations for major advances in anti-cancer drugs in 2014.

Rayonier jumped 9.7 percent after announcing plans to split into two companies, one focusing on specialty chemicals, the other on forest resources.

Ariad Pharmaceuticals fell 12.0 percent, giving up some of last week's gains that followed a published report saying the company was being eyed for a takeover by larger pharmaceutical companies.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury rose to 2.77 percent from 2.74 percent on Friday, while the 30-year rose to 3.68 percent from 3.65 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.

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