Stocks finish lower after a choppy day

Wall Street moved into a fourth straight week of falling prices amid discouraging economic data and uncertainty about the U.S.-China trade war.
(Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images)

Wall Street had a day of choppy trading Monday that ended with stocks broadly lower as the market extended its losing streak into a fourth week.

Technology firms, consumer goods makers, healthcare companies and banks accounted for much of the selling, which accelerated in the last hour of trading, erasing modest gains from earlier in the day. Communication services stocks eked out a slight gain, bucking the broader market slide. Crude oil prices edged down and bond yields rose.

The market is coming off a three-week skid following a mostly discouraging batch of economic data that stoked investors’ worries that a slowdown in U.S. economic growth could worsen.


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

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index ended down 13.22 points, or 0.4%, at 2,938.79. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 95.70 points, or 0.4%, to 26,478.02. The Nasdaq fell 26.18 points, or 0.3%, to 7,956.29.

The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks slipped 2.91 points, or 0.2%, to 1,497.79.

Bond prices fell, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury up to 1.56% from 1.51%.

Markets have been whipsawed for months by the ups and downs in the U.S.-China trade war.

”Labor has held up fairly OK, but we’re definitely decelerating from an economic standpoint, so corporate earnings may reflect that negatively,” Roth said. “The biggest drivers of the market are going to be who controls policy in Washington and what the specifics are around the Chinese trade situation.”

Envoys from Washington and Beijing are scheduled to meet this week.

Broadcom led the slide in technology stocks Monday, dropping 1.9%.

Beverage companies fell amid a sell-off in consumer product makers. Constellation Brands slid 2.6%, PepsiCo lost 1.4% and Coca-Cola fell 1.2%.

Several big drugmakers helped weigh down the healthcare sector. Abbott Laboratories slid 1.2%. Merck fell 0.7%.


Fox inched up 0.1% and Dish Network rose 0.2% after Fox settled a dispute with Dish over carriage of Fox’s local TV stations and cable sports networks. Dish pulled the broadcast network from 17 markets in September.

ConocoPhillips climbed 2.1% after the energy company raised its quarterly dividend by 38% and said it will buy back $3 billion of its stock in 2020.

General Motors fell 0.5%. The stock has lost nearly 10% 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. GM’s stock is still up 3.8% for the year, though that is far behind competitor Ford’s 13.7% gain.

Benchmark crude oil fell 6 cents to settle at $52.75 a barrel. Brent crude oil, the international standard, slipped 2 cents to close at $58.35 a barrel. Wholesale gasoline was unchanged at $1.57 a gallon. Heating oil climbed 1 cent to $1.90 a gallon. Natural gas fell 5 cents to $2.30 per 1,000 cubic feet.

Gold fell $8.50 to $1,497.70 an ounce. Silver fell 8 cents to $17.46 an ounce. Copper rose 1 cent to $2.57 a pound.