The major equity indexes closed lower for the most part on Tuesday after a late afternoon selling spree as investors fled for safety after President Trump vowed to respond aggressively to any threats from North Korea.
After scaling back from record highs earlier in the session, Wall Street’s three major indexes dipped after Trump said North Korea “will be met with fire and fury” like the world has never seen if it threatens the United States.
Japan said on Tuesday it was possible that North Korea had already developed nuclear warheads and warned of an acute threat posed by its weapons programs as Pyongyang’s continues missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. sanctions.
Investors, who took the North Korea report from Japan in their stride earlier in the day, lost their appetite for risk after Trump’s comments to reporters during his vacation at his golf club in New Jersey.
The CBOE Volatility Index, the most widely-followed barometer of expected near-term market volatility, closed at 10.96, its highest point in about a month.
Ten out of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors ended lower after the comments with the only gains seen in the utilities sector, which is a bond proxy because of its slow but predictable growth and dividends. Utilities closed up 0.3 percent.
The materials sector was the S&P’s largest loser with a 0.9-percent decline.
Trading volume also picked up in the late afternoon of what had been a sleepy summer session, with Congress in recess until Sept 5.
The S&P hasn’t moved more than 0.5 percent in one day since July and has fallen more than 1 percent only twice this year.
The financial sector index gave back gains after news California insurance regulator will probe whether Wells Fargo and an insurance company harmed residents by selling insurance they did not need. Wells Fargo still ended up 0.3 percent at $52.71.
Shares of Michael Kors ended the day with a 21.5 percent gain, after the luxury goods maker raised its full-year revenue forecast.
Approximately 6.22 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, a number that was slightly above the 6.15 billion share daily average for the past 20 trading sessions.
Crude Prices Down
The price of crude sank a bit on Tuesday, as exports from key OPEC producers rose and in defiance of news of lower crude shipments from Saudi Arabia.
The oil market has been in consolidation mode after a sharp rally between mid-June and late July pushed our domestic crude futures above $50 a barrel for the first time in several weeks. The price slipped back below $50 and has traded around that number as world supply has been slow to draw down.
Brent crude settled down 23 cents a barrel at $52.14 a barrel. West Texas light ended the day down 22 cents per barrel at $49.17.
Exports from OPEC hit a record in July, largely because of gains in Nigeria and Libya, both of whom are exempt from the agreement to limit production through March 2018. The recovery in Libya’s oil output and higher production in Nigeria have complicated OPEC’s efforts to curb supply.
Officials from a joint OPEC and non-OPEC technical committee said on Tuesday that they on expect greater adherence to the pact to cut 1.8 million bpd in production.
Saudi state oil company Aramco will cut allocations to its customers worldwide in September by at least 520,000 barrels per day (bpd), sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.
Oil production remains high in many parts of the world and fuel prices are around half what they were in 2011-2014. Many of our domestic shale drillers, in reporting second quarter earnings, highlighted efforts to improve drilling efficiencies to raise earnings, but largely expect to keep pumping oil.
The Energy Information Administration will release its weekly petroleum status report Wednesday morning. Domestic crude inventories last week were expected to have declined for a sixth straight week, while refined product stockpiles probably fell too, according to an extended Reuters poll.
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