Daily Data Flow: Stocks Fall on Fed Minutes; Trade Speculation Lowers Oil; Fed Minutes Aid Dollar Growth

Fed Minutes Lower Stocks (Bloomberg)
Today’s release of minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting showed debate regarding the direction of further stimulus action, and investors responded with hesitation, as the S&P 500 fell 1.2%, its biggest drop in more than three months. ???It doesn???t take a lot of imagination to think about where the next potential source of weakness or worry is going to be, and that???s going to be when the Fed steps back from their quantitative easing program,??? said Brian Barish, president of Denver, Colorado-based Cambiar Investors.

Oil Down on Trade Speculation (MarketWatch)
Oil futures fell today, as a big chunk of trades attracted speculation that a commodity fund was forced to liquidate ahead of the expiration of the March futures contracts. For oil, ???it seemed to be a mass exodus,??? said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst at Price Futures Group. Contract expiration ???coupled with talks of a deal with Iran and rumors of a hedge-fund liquidation caused all bulls to run for cover.???

Fed Minutes Raise Dollar (Reuters)
While the aforementioned minutes from the Federal Reserve lowered stocks today, they did have the benefit of raising the U.S. dollar. “The dollar has been generally firm all day and the (Fed) minutes have been seized as a handy reason to extend those gains,” said Marc Chandler, global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman.