U.S. stocks decline as investors await Federal Reserve decision

July 31 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stocks fell, trimming a second monthly advance in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as investors awaited the Federal Reserve’s decision on interest rates.

Coach Inc., the largest U.S. luxury handbag maker, tumbled 17 percent after reporting revenue that trailed analysts’ estimates. Humana Inc. slumped 14 percent as the provider of Medicare benefits cut its 2012 profit forecast. Apple Inc. rose 2.1 percent as Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. said it is considering a stock split that could prompt the world’s most valuable company to be added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The S&P 500 fell 0.3 percent to 1,381.32 at 12:17 p.m. New York time. The benchmark measure for American equities has risen 1.4 percent in July. The Dow average slid 34.32 points, or 0.3 percent, to 13,038.69. Trading in S&P 500 companies was almost in line with the 30-day average at this time of day.

“The market is on a wait-and-see mode,” Frederic Dickson, who helps oversee about $32 billion as chief market strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Lake Oswego, Oregon, said in a phone interview. “Investors tend to sit on their hands waiting for the policy statement.”

Equities declined as a Bloomberg News survey showed that the Fed will probably forgo announcing a third round of large- scale asset purchases this week, and is more likely to wait until September to unveil plans to buy $600 billion in housing and government debt. Confidence among consumers unexpectedly rose for the first time in five months. Residential real estate prices declined less than forecast.

Coach Tumbles

Coach tumbled 17 percent, the most since 2001 on a closing basis, to $50.43. Sales at North American stores open at least a year advanced 1.7 percent, compared with a gain of 10 percent a year earlier. Jennifer Davis, an analyst at Lazard Capital Markets, projected an increase of 5 percent.

Humana Inc. dropped 14 percent, the biggest decline since 2009, to $60.37. The company generated three-quarters of sales last year from Medicare, the U.S.-backed program for the elderly and disabled, and Chief Executive Officer Michael B. McCallister said that new members were proving more expensive.

Archer Daniels Midland Co. slumped 4.4 percent to $26.29. The world’s largest corn processor reported fiscal fourth- quarter profit that missed analysts’ estimates as its ethanol business swung to a loss and the U.S. drought increases corn costs.

Apple rallied 2.1 percent to $607.56. C. The company’s decision in March to pay its first dividend in 17 years makes it more likely the stock could be added to the index after a split, said Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein who rates the shares outperform, in a report today.

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