The major equity indexes were lower across the board on Tuesday, with the S&P 500 chalking up its largest single-day loss in about three weeks, due in no small part to the tensions over North Korea.
North Korea on Sunday conducted its sixth nuclear test, which it said was of an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile, marking a dramatic escalation of the regime’s stand-off with the United States and its allies.
The benchmark S&P fell as much as 1.2 percent during the session, but stemmed its losses by the close. Declines of at least 1 percent have been rare in 2017 as the stock market has steadily climbed to all-time highs. The S&P on Friday had ended within five points of its record closing high.
Wall Street may face a bumpy road in September, typically the worst month for stocks, if there is a showdown in Washington over the budget and the federal debt ceiling.
Investors’ nerves were also being frayed as a result of the heightened news of a powerful storm heading to the southern United States closely on the heels of devastation in Texas from Hurricane Harvey. As a result, shares in home insurers with exposure to Florida tumbled as investors braced for losses as Hurricane Irma appeared set to hit the state.
The CBOE Volatility index, the most widely followed barometer of expected near-term stock market volatility, rose 2.10 points to 12.23.
Some investors saw any sell-off as a reason to buy in a bull run that is now more than eight years old. Financials were the worst-performing sector, dropping 2.2 percent for their largest one-day decline since mid-May.
Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard said the Fed should delay raising interest rates until it is confident inflation that is now “well short” of target will rebound.
Goldman Sachs’ fell 3.6 percent, dragging down the Dow, while the S&P was pulled lower by a more than 2-percent fall in shares of JPMorgan and Bank of America.
Aerospace stocks were rattled by United Technologies’ $23 billion deal to buy avionics maker Rockwell Collins. United Technologies shares closed down 5.7 percent and were the Dow’s largest decliners, while shares of fellow Dow component Boeing fell 1.4 percent. Rockwell Collins shares rose 0.3 percent.
Delta fell 3.5 percent after the airline cut its forecast for passenger unit revenue.
Insmed shares more than doubled after the company said its drug for a rare lung disorder met the main goal in a late-stage study.
Approximately 6.7 billion shares changed hands on the major domestic equity exchanges, a number that was above the 5.8 billion share daily average over the last 20 sessions.
Factory Orders Decline
Factory orders recorded their largest decline in nearly three years during July, while at the same time orders for capital goods were stronger than previously reported, pointing to robust business spending at the start of the third quarter.
According to a report by the Commerce Department on Tuesday morning, factory orders fell 3.3 percent amid a slump in demand for transportation equipment, making it the largest decline since August 2014.
June’s data was revised to show orders rising 3.2 percent instead of the previously reported 3.0 percent surge. Manufacturing, which makes up about 12 percent of the U.S. economy, is strengthening even as the gains from oil and gas drilling is starting to fade as ample supplies restrain crude oil prices.
Tuesday’s report also showed orders for non-defense capital goods excluding aircraft – seen as a measure of business spending plans – increased 1.0 percent in July instead of gaining 0.4 percent as reported last month.
Orders for these so-called core capital goods slipped 0.1 percent in June. Shipments of core capital goods, which are used to calculate business equipment spending in the gross domestic product report, jumped 1.2 percent instead of the previously reported 1.0 percent rise.
In July, orders for machinery fell 0.9 percent after gaining 0.5 percent in June. Mining, oil field and gas field machinery orders rose 1.7 percent after climbing 2.5 percent in June.
Orders for transportation equipment were down 19.2 percent, the largest decline since August 2014. That reflected a 70.8 percent dive in civilian aircraft orders. Boeing has reported on its website that it received only 22 aircraft orders in July, sharply down from 184 in the prior month.
Motor vehicle orders fell 0.9 percent after being unchanged in June. Motor vehicle production has slumped in recent months as declining sales left manufacturers with an inventory overhang.
Production could receive some enhancement from an anticipated spike in demand for automobiles as residents in storm-ravaged Texas replace flood-damaged vehicles.