Stock prices fell Wednesday as investors awaited the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates and looked past an increase in U.S. oil inventories and a solid advance in the gross domestic product.

Investors sent stocks up in early trading on falling oil prices and a Commerce Department report that the economy grew at an annual rate of 3.8 percent in the first quarter, a marked improvement from the 3.5 percent estimated a month ago.

But the two-day meeting of the Fed's Open Market Committee, which sets the central bank's interest rate policy, ultimately weighed on the market. The Fed's decision, and its accompanying statement assessing the economy, is expected this afternoon.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 31.15, or 0.30 percent, to 10,374.48. Broader stock indicators fell slightly. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index was down 1.72, or 0.14 percent, at 1199.85, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 1.00, or 0.05 percent, to 2068.89.

Wall Street has had two preoccupations in recent weeks -- interest rates and oil prices. Most investors expect the Fed to raise rates today for the ninth time in a year. And they hope for a sign that the increases will soon come to an end.

The market's anxiety about the Fed had investors ignoring a drop in crude oil prices -- an event that normally would give stocks a lift.

Oil futures fell after the Energy Department reported a substantial increase in gasoline production and lesser increases in oil imports and commercial crude inventories.


Net2Phone rose 36 cents, to $1.77, after IDT announced a tender offer for all outstanding shares.

Oracle rose 74 cents, to $13.57, after announcing its best year-over-year profit and revenue gain since 2000.

Monsanto fell $4.84, to $63, after saying earnings fell 81 percent because of a write-off of research and development.

General Mills fell $3.40, to $47.21, after announcing a decline in sales.


New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 5.42, to 7262.50.

American Stock Exchange index rose 6.22, to 1540.56.

Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 1.28, to 642.76.


NYSE: 1.75 billion shares, down from 1.77 billion on Tuesday. Advancers outnumbered decliners 4 to 3.

Nasdaq: 1.66 billion shares, up from 1.61 billion. Advancers narrowly outnumbered decliners.


Crude oil for August delivery: $57.26, down 94 cents.

Gold for current delivery: $437.30 a troy ounce, up from $436.40 on Tuesday.