U.S. stocks fall on mixed earnings
NEW YORK — Stocks closed lower on Wall Street Wednesday, weighed down by a mixed batch of corporate earnings from big retailers and lingering uncertainty over the trade spat between the U.S. and China.
Lowe’s and Nordstrom were among the biggest decliners in the S&P 500 after the retailers reported quarterly results that fell short of Wall Street’s expectations. Target bucked the trend, surging after its latest results handily topped analysts’ forecasts.
Chipmakers and other technology stocks also pulled the market lower, continuing a pattern of volatile trading as investors react to developments in the U.S. and China’s trade dispute. Energy stocks also took losses, falling along with the price of crude oil. Small company stocks declined more than the rest of the market.
The sell-off outweighed gains by health care companies, household goods makers and other sectors, reversing some of the market’s gains from a day earlier.
“There’s just so much uncertainty, it’s really hard for anybody to frame how it’s going to play out,” said Karyn Cavanaugh, senior markets strategist at Voya Investment Management.
The S&P 500 index fell 8.09 points, or 0.3%, to 2,856.27. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 100.72 points, or 0.4%, to 25,776.61. The Nasdaq composite slid 34.88 points, or 0.5%, to 7,750.84.
The Russell 2000 index of small company stocks gave up 13.62 points, or 0.9%, to 1,531.63.
Major stock indexes in Europe closed mixed.
Bond prices rose, dragging the yield on the 10-year Treasury to 2.38% from 2.42% late Tuesday.
Heightened tensions over trade have stuck the market in a rut for the last two weeks. The major U.S. indexes are all down more than 3% in May, although they are still holding on to gains for the year between 10% and 16%.
The turbulent stretch of trading this month has been a change from the relative calm that dominated markets earlier this year, when a trade agreement appeared in the works.
The U.S. has imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports and is planning to target another $300 billion, a move that would cover everything China ships to the U.S. China, meanwhile, has retaliated against $110 billion in U.S. products.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer wrapped up an 11th round of talks with Chinese counterparts earlier this month without reaching an agreement. More talks have yet to be scheduled.
The trade war continues to be a wild card hanging over the market, said Jason Pride, chief investment officer of private wealth for Glenmede. The economy is in the late stages of a decade-long expansion and investors are questioning how much longer it can continue.
“Everybody is looking over their shoulders trying to figure out when this cycle will end,” he said.
Corporate earnings and federal monetary policy have ceased to be major concerns, Pride said. That leaves trade as the most closely watched and currently volatile issue.
Meanwhile, investors appeared to shrug off the minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting of policymakers.
The central bank released the minutes Wednesday afternoon, but the market barely budged. The minutes show some Fed officials still thought more interest rate increases might be needed to keep low unemployment from triggering unwanted inflation.