Business / Financial Markets

Major U.S. stock indexes veer broadly lower in choppy trading, extending losses amid China trade jitters


Stocks turned modestly lower Monday afternoon as a choppy day of trading on Wall Street put the market on track to extend its losses from last week.

Technology stocks, companies that rely on consumer spending and banks accounted for much of the broad slide, offsetting gains in communication services stocks and utilities. Bond yields rose.

The market is coming off a three-week skid following a mixed batch of economic data that stoked investors’ worries that a slowdown in U.S. economic growth could worsen. Last week, the S&P 500 posted its first back-to-back losses of 1 percent this year as surprisingly weak numbers in surveys of manufacturing and service industries raised worries that the economy could slip into a recession.

The costly and long-running trade war between the U.S. and China remains a key source of uncertainty for markets, which have been volatile in response to the ups and downs in the conflict.

Washington and Beijing are preparing for a new round of trade talks this week. Envoys from both nations are meeting in their latest bid to put an end to the dispute that is stunting global economic growth and spooking the stock market.

The S&P 500 was down 0.2 percent as of 3:22 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 37 points, or 0.1 percent, to 26,536. The Nasdaq dropped 0.1 percent and the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies lost 0.1 percent.

Major stock indexes in Europe closed broadly higher. Stocks in Asia ended mixed. Chinese markets are due to reopen on Tuesday after a weeklong break.

Bond prices fell, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 1.55 percent from 1.51 percent late Friday.

The market is coming off three straight weekly losses. Investors digested a series of mostly disappointing economic reports last week that showed the U.S.-China trade war is hurting manufacturing and threatening U.S. economic growth. Some of those fears were allayed on Friday when a government jobs report showed that employers are still adding jobs at a healthy clip and that the national unemployment rate dropped to a five-decade low.

Still, last week marked the third weekly loss in a row for the broader market as the trade war takes its toll on confidence.

The combination of uncertainty over the trade war and the impeachment inquiry drama unfolding in Washington is likely to continue to drag on the U.S. economy, said Tony Roth, chief investment officer at Wilmington Trust.

“And that’s why the markets are treading water right now, waiting to see if another shoe drops,” Roth said.

Broadcom led the slide in technology stocks, dropping 1.8 percent.

Beverage companies fell amid a sell-off in consumer product makers. Constellation Brands fell 2.2 percent and PepsiCo dropped 1.2 percent.

Several big retailers also fell. Dollar Tree slid 3 percent and Ulta Beauty lost 2.8 percent.

Financial sector stocks headed lower, giving up early gains. Wells Fargo slid 0.6 percent and Progressive dropped 1.6 percent.

Discovery led the gains in the communication services sector. The stock rose 1.8 percent.

General Motors has lost nearly 10 percent of its value since contract negotiations with the now striking United Auto Workers started to falter. The situation has taken another bad turn as negotiations hit a snag over product commitments for U.S. factories.

Workers were warned by United Auto Workers vice president Terry Dittes on Sept. 6 that bargaining was moving slowly. Workers moved to picket lines on Sept. 16, crippling the company’s factories and accelerating stock losses.

Despite the labor issues, General Motor’s stock is still up 4.8 percent for the year, though that is far behind competitor Ford’s 13.8 percent annual gain.

Fox rose 0.6 percent after the company settled a dispute with Dish Network over carriage of Fox’s local TV stations and cable sports networks. Dish pulled the broadcast network from 17 markets in September.

ConocoPhillips climbed 2.7 percent after the energy company raised its quarterly dividend by 38 percent and will buy back $3 billion of its stock in 2020.