Stocks are taking a breather ahead of earnings results later today by tech giant Apple ( AAPL ) and the start of the Federal Open Markets Committee meeting tomorrow. The S&P 500 broke another record high soon after the opening bell today - led by gains in consumer staples and energy stocks - but soon drifted off those highs in sympathy with broader market weakness. Early gains were compromised by disappointing Q3 results from Merck ( MRK ), which was hurt by patent expirations and currency fluctuations. Homebuilders also are under pressure after the National Association of Realtors reported a 5.6% drop in pending home sales during September.
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