Updated April 25 at 4:56pm

U.S. stocks fall as banks slump, investors weigh Fed speeches

U.S. stocks fell, following three weeks of gains for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as financial shares slumped and investors watched speeches from Federal Reserve officials for clues on monetary policies. More

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U.S. stocks fall as banks slump, investors weigh Fed speeches

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NEW YORK - U.S. stocks fell, following three weeks of gains for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as financial shares slumped and investors watched speeches from Federal Reserve officials for clues on monetary policies.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. declined more than 2.4 percent as Atlantic Equities LLP forecast a drop in fixed-income trading revenue for the biggest U.S. banks. BlackBerry Ltd. dropped 5 percent after at least three analysts lowered their recommendations on the shares. Apple Inc. surged 4.1 percent after saying first-weekend sales of its new iPhones topped 9 million units.

The S&P 500 retreated 0.4 percent to 1,702.47 at 1:01 p.m. in New York. The benchmark gauge has lost 1.4 percent over three days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 38.37 points, or 0.3 percent, to 15,412.72. Trading in S&P 500 stocks was 4.1 percent above the 30-day average at this time of day.

“At some point, investors are going to say, ‘What’s underpinning this strong rally? We need some solid numbers,’” Scott Armiger, chief investment officer at Christiana Trust in Wilmington, Del., said in a phone interview. The firm has $6 billion under administration. Fed policy makers “are trying to neutralize the market. This time Bernanke said no tapering and they’re all running out and saying ‘wait a minute, folks, don’t get carried away.’”

The S&P 500 rose 1.3 percent last week, touching a record high, as the Federal Open Market Committee said at its Sept. 17-18 meeting that it will continue to buy $85 billion of assets a month, surprising economists who had forecast a reduction. The S&P 500 has gained 6 percent for the quarter and is up 19 percent for the year.

Fed speakers

The central bank has left its main interest rate near zero since December 2008 and has expanded its balance sheet to a record $3.66 trillion through three rounds of stimulus. The quantitative easing program has helped the S&P 500 surge more than 150 percent since March 2009.

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