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March 11, 2015

U.S. stocks fluctuated, after the biggest equities selloff in more than two months amid the surging dollar, as declines in consumer companies offset banks’ rebound.

Tyson Foods Inc. and Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. fell more than 4.5 percent amid reports of suspected bird flu in Arkansas. Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. added at least 1.6 percent after financial stocks in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index Tuesday had their steepest decline since April. Intel rallied the most since November after its biggest drop in more than a month.

The S&P 500 Index climbed less than 0.1 percent to 2,045.05 at 12:33 p.m. in New York. The gauge is trading near its average price for the past 100 days. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 30.85 points, or 0.2 percent, to 17,693.79. The Nasdaq Composite Index was little changed.

“The mood has shifted toward a wait-and-see environment as investors await greater clarity on earnings and possible Fed action,” Terry Sandven, who helps oversee $126 billion as chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis, said in a phone interview.

The dollar’s ascent to a 12-year high versus the euro sent American stocks tumbling yesterday, erasing gains for the year on concern earnings are in worse shape than investors recognized. The S&P 500 is down 0.6 percent in 2015, with the index trailing all but one of 24 developed markets.

Dow Jones Futures: Profit Drop

A 10 percent strengthening in the trade-weighted dollar lowers the estimated 2015 profit for the S&P 500 by about $3 a share, according to an earnings model created by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The benchmark equity gauge will have earnings per share of $123.52 this year, according to the average of 20 strategist forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.

Analysts predict profit at S&P 500 companies will drop 5.1 percent in the current quarter after a 4.4 percent increase in the final three months of 2014, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Should S&P 500 earnings fall for the first three months of 2015, it would mark the first period of negative earnings since 2009.

Dollar General Corp. and Oracle Corp. are among the final companies to post quarterly results over the next week as the earnings season comes to a close. Around 74 percent of companies that have already reported beat profit projections, while 56 percent topped sales estimates.

S&P 500 Futures: Banks Rebound

Concern the Federal Reserve may start raising interest rates amid a strengthening economy has also weighed on equities this year. Other major central banks are cutting rates and buying government bonds to stimulate growth.

ECB President Mario Draghi this week started his first round of bond buying to stop deflation taking hold in the euro area, implementing a plan to buy 1.1 trillion euros ($1.2 trillion) of debt.

The S&P 500 fell 1.6 percent last week, the most since January, as data showed the jobless rate fell to within the Federal Reserve’s range for what it considers full employment. Policy makers next meet on March 17-18.

Five of the S&P 500’s 10 main groups increased Tuesday, led by financial and energy company shares.

Financial companies added 0.8 percent after falling the most in nearly a year yesterday as Charles Schwab Corp., Citigroup and Bank of America rose at least 1.6 percent, pacing advances.

Consumer staples shares lost 0.6 percent. Tyson Foods slipped 4.5 percent amid reports suspected bird flu in Arkansas poultry threaten exports. Pilgrim’s Pride and Sanderson Farms Inc. each dropped more than 5.3 percent.

Apple Inc. fell 0.9 percent to a one-month low. The company’s iTunes and App stores experienced outages Wednesday that prevented users from making purchases or downloading applications.

- Michelle F. Davis and Oliver Renick in New York at Bloomberg.