Weak factory data, trade woes hit Wall St
US stocks have fallen as investors worried about global growth prospects after data showed US factory activity shrank in August for the first time since 2016 and the US and China imposed new tariffs on each other over the weekend.
Investors fled riskier assets as the latest round of tariffs and the lack of a date for a resumption of US-China talks gnawed at any hopes for a resolution to the long-running trade war, which has rattled markets for months and weighed on world economies.
Compounding the uncertainty, the Institute for Supply Management said early on Tuesday its index of national factory activity dropped to 49.1, compared with a reading of 51.1 estimated by analysts polled by Reuters.
"If anything the US manufacturing data signals that the new tariffs couldn't come at a worse time. It's bad news on top of bad news. That's why investors are so focused on negotiations" said Alec Young, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell based in New York. "Not only have expectations been receding for a US-China deal but they can't even agree on a date to meet," said Young.
He also cited growing uncertainty around Brexit as a concern for investors. British MPs on Tuesday triggered a vote that could allow them to stop Boris Johnson pursuing a no-deal Brexit, a challenge that the government warned would prompt the prime minister to seek an election on October 14.
Earlier in the day, data showed British construction companies last month suffered the sharpest drop in new orders since the financial crisis amid Brexit jitters.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Tuesday fell 285.26 points, or 1.08 per cent, to 26,118.02; the S&P 500 lost 20.19 points, or 0.69 per cent, to 2,906.27; and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 88.72 points, or 1.11 per cent, to 7,874.16.
Trade-sensitive industrials fell 1.4 per cent, making for the biggest percentage loser among the S&P 11 major sectors. Technology stocks fell 1.3 per cent, weighed down by chipmakers, which have a large revenue exposure to China. The Philadelphia Semiconductor index dropped 1.8 per cent.
Boeing shares tumbled 2.7 per cent, providing the biggest drag for the Dow, after the Federal Aviation Administration said on Friday a global panel of experts will need a few more weeks to finish its review of the company's 737 MAX certification.
US casino operators felt the brunt of slowing economic growth in China as gambling hub Macau posted weak August casino revenue. Shares of Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International fell between 2 per cent and almost 4 per cent.
The only sectors that gained ground were utilities, rising 1.8 per cent; real estate, climbing 1.3 per cent; and consumer staples, which closed the session up 0.5 per cent.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.61-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.50-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 43 new 52-week highs and 10 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 49 new highs and 134 new lows.
On US exchanges, 6.72 billion shares changed hands compared with the 6.99 billion average for the last 20 sessions.
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