Stocks close down as oil and other commodities sink
Another bout of turbulence swung the U.S. stock market to a loss Tuesday as raw-material producers sank along with prices for oil and copper. The selling swept across every industry, with all 10 sectors of the S&P 500 taking a fall.
JJ Kinahan, TD Ameritrade’s chief strategist, said lingering uncertainty over China’s slowdown and the timing of the Federal Reserve’s first interest-rate hike in nearly a decade has made investors skittish.
“I think it’s really just the fact that nobody knows what to do,” Kinahan said. “When things are this uncertain, the reaction is sell first and see what happens later.”
Without any big news to drive trading, the indexes slumped throughout the morning, bottomed out in the afternoon and then spent the rest of the day recovering their losses.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index dropped 24.23 points, or 1.2 percent, to 1,942.74.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 179.72 points, or 1.1 percent, to 16,330.47, and the Nasdaq composite declined 72.73 points, or 1.5 percent, to 4,756.72.
Mounting concerns about slowing growth in China and around the world have battered financial markets throughout the summer. The S&P 500, the most widely used measure of U.S. investments, has lost more than 8 percent in three months.
Investors will get another look at China’s economy on Wednesday when Caixin’s manufacturing index comes out. Last month, it hit a six-year low. Federal Reserve officials cited China’s slowdown as one reason it decided to delay raising interest rates last week.
The scandal at Volkswagen AG, the world’s top-selling carmaker, deepened after it said some 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide were fitted with software to cheat U.S. emissions test. The company said it was setting aside around 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) to cover the fallout. Its U.S.-listed shares plunged $4.66, or 15 percent, to $25.44, extending Volkswagen’s losses to 30 percent over two days.
In Europe, markets across the continent closed with big losses. Germany’s DAX dropped 3.8 percent, and France’s CAC-40 dropped 3.4 percent. Britain’s FTSE 100 index closed with a loss of 2.8 percent.
Major indexes in Asia ended higher, with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng up 0.2 percent and mainland China’s Shanghai Composite Index up 0.9 percent. Markets in Japan remain closed for a three-day holiday.
Back in the U.S., ConAgra Foods tumbled 7 percent after posting a $1.2 billion quarterly loss. Sales for the maker of Chef Boyardee, Hebrew National hot dogs and other packaged food also fell short of analysts’ forecasts. ConAgra’s stock sank $3 to $39.40.
After the market closed on Monday, Mosaic said it would cut production of its fertilizers as falling prices for crops have hurt the company’s sales. Mosaic pointed to swings in currencies and financial markets as other culprits. Its stock lost $2.56, or 7 percent, to $33.88.
U.S. government bond prices jumped, knocking the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 2.13 percent, from 2.20 percent late Monday.
In commodity trading, most industrial and precious metals settled with steep losses. Copper lost 9 cents, or 4 percent, to finish at $2.30 a pound. Gold dropped an even $8 to $1,124.80 an ounce, and silver sank 47 cents to $14.76 an ounce.
Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 85 cents to close at $45.83 a barrel in New York. Brent Crude, an international benchmark, rose 16 cents to close at $49.08 a barrel in London.
In other trading:
— Wholesale gasoline rose 1.3 cents to close at $1.416 a gallon.
— Heating oil rose 1.8 cents to close at $1.532 a gallon.
— Natural gas rose 0.4 cents to close at $2.577 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Your guide to our clean energy future
Get our Boiling Point newsletter for the latest on the power sector, water wars and more — and what they mean for California.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.