Wall Street slips as energy, consumer stocks drag

October 17, 2016 7:25 AM EDT

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., October 14, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street ended modestly lower on Monday as energy stocks retreated along with oil prices, while Amazon and Netflix weighed on the consumer discretionary sector.

Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer warned that economic stability could be threatened by low interest rates and noted the central bank is "very close" to its employment and inflation targets, but said it was "not that simple" for the Fed to raise rates.

The comments from Fischer, a dove who has supported a rate hike, come as other Fed officials have recently said the current state of affairs may be about as good as it gets.

Conflicting statements on the timing of a rate hike from some Fed officials has been adding to uncertainty in markets, which have been grappling with changing dynamics in a tumultuous U.S. presidential election and nervousness regarding third-quarter earnings.

"Fischer’s stature is second only to Janet Yellen so when he speaks, people are going to pay closer attention to what he is saying," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

"To me, it is different slices of the same apple - we’ve got a Fed that desperately wants to raise rates one more time this year and that probably happens in December."

Energy stocks <.SPNY> were 0.6 percent lower as U.S. oil prices settled down 0.8 percent at $49.94 while Brent crude settled down 0.8 percent at $51.52 a barrel. Oil prices were weighed down by oversupply concerns, although losses were curbed amid a projected drop in American shale output.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 51.98 points, or 0.29 percent, to 18,086.4, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 6.48 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,126.5 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 14.34 points, or 0.27 percent, to 5,199.82.

Investors are looking for corporate profits to turn a corner in the third-quarter after a string of declines. With 7 percent of S&P 500 companies having reported through Monday morning, expectations are for a decline of 0.1 percent for the quarter, an improvement from the 0.5 percent decline expected on Oct. 1, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC) shares edged up 0.3 percent as its profit rose for the first time in three quarters and topped estimates.

Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) fell 1.6 percent ahead of its expected quarterly results, while Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) lost 1.2 percent, for its third straight decline, which pulled the consumer discretionary sector <.SPLRCD> 0.8 percent lower.

After the close, shares of the subscription video service surged about 20 percent in the wake of its results.

Hasbro Inc (NASDAQ: HAS), was a bright spot among discretionary stocks during the session, surging 7.4 percent after the toymaker's better-than-expected quarterly report.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.51-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.48-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted no new 52-week highs and 7 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 24 new highs and 89 new lows.

About 5.15 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, below the 6.54 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Nick Zieminski)

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