United States stocks close lower on sell-off

At 11:00 a.m. ET (1600 GMT), the Dow was down 248.23 points, or 0.94 percent, at 26,191.25.

U.S. Treasury yields climbed to multi-year highs after the start of the Federal Reserve's two-day meeting, which could shed light on the central bank's economic and rate hike outlook.

The S&P 500 index fell 19.34 points, or 0.7 percent, to 2,853.53. The 352-point drop to its session low was the Dow's steepest intraday point drop since May 17.

Energy stocks fell amid a 1.6% drop in US oil futures, which settled at $64.50 a barrel.

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Traders are paying up for near-term protection, remaining relatively sanguine over the trajectory for the next months, as the S&P 500 is suffering its first back-to-back declines of more than 0.5 percent since November 2016.

The CBOE Volatility Index, the most widely followed gauge for investors' "fears", rose to as much as 14.69, its highest level since August. The stock is down 8.8 percent. Pfizer was down 3.4 percent despite its better-than-expected earnings and upbeat 2018 guidance on a lower tax rate. Dow component United Health Group dropped 5.6%, while Express Scripts dropped more than 9% to lead S&P 500 decliners.

Harley-Davidson was down 7.8 percent after forecasting a drop in motorcycle shipments this year.

The market selloff came on the heels of President Trump's first State of the Union address Tuesday evening. On the Nasdaq, 1,954 issues fell and 866 advanced. The Nasdaq Composite was down 64 points at 7,402.

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