NEW YORK – Stocks moved broadly lower in afternoon trading on Wall Street Wednesday as investors turned anxious about the possibility that the U.S. and China may not reach a trade deal before next year.
A published report suggested a “phase one” trade pact may not be completed this year as negotiators continue to wrestle over differences. Beijing is pressing Washington to agree to broader tariffs rollbacks on Chinese goods.
Another potential hurdle: The Senate’s passage of a resolution in support of human rights in Hong Kong following months of anti-government protests. China condemned the move and threatened “strong countermeasures.”
President Donald Trump said Tuesday he was prepared to raise tariffs on Chinese exports if the nations can’t reach an agreement on trade.
Investors have been hoping the world’s two biggest economies can make a deal before new and more damaging tariffs take effect next month. Growing optimism among investors that the trade talks were making progress helped pave the way for gains in the market in recent weeks, including a string of all-time highs for the major stock indexes.
Technology and communication services companies were among the biggest losers Wednesday. HP fell 2.1 percent and AT&T slid 3.6 percent.
Bank of America dropped 1 percent as financial stocks fell broadly along with bond yields. The yield on the 10-year Treasury slid to 1.73 percent from 1.78 percent late Tuesday. Falling bond yields hurt banks because they are a benchmark for the interest rates lenders charge on mortgages and other loans.
Energy companies held up better than the rest of the market as oil prices jumped 3.3 percent. ConocoPhillips rose 3.2 percent.
Utilities also rose as traders moved to shift assets into less-risky and higher-dividend paying stocks.
Target and Lowe’s both made sharp gains after reporting encouraging earnings and forecasts.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index was down 0.5 percent as of 3:35 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 154 points, or 0.6 percent, to 27,779. The Nasdaq slid 0.7 percent. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks slipped 0.2 percent.
Major stock indexes in Europe also fell.
CRACK SHOT: Target surged 14.3 percent after handily beating Wall Street’s third-quarter earnings estimates. The retailer also raised its profit forecast for the year.
PROFIT REPAIR: Lowe’s rose 3.5 percent after raising its profit forecast for the year following a solid third quarter. The home improvement retailer has been working to improve profit and sales to better compete with rival Home Depot.
Home Depot, which cut its profit forecast after reporting disappointing earnings on Tuesday, fell 2.2 percent.
THAT’S NOT VERY HIP: Urban Outfitters plunged 16.4 percent after the clothing and accessories retailer fell short of Wall Street’s third-quarter profit and sales forecasts.