Stocks fall for 2nd day; oil surges
A batch of discouraging economic news deepened investors’ concerns about corporate earnings, pulling major U.S. stock indexes down Wednesday for the second day in a row.
The modest slide cut the Standard & Poor’s 500 index’s gain for the year to less than one-tenth of a percent.
Oil prices surged above $50 a barrel on signs that U.S. production growth is slowing.
Payroll processor ADP said U.S. companies added fewer jobs last month than economists had expected and an index of manufacturing activity declined for the fifth month in a row. In addition, the government said construction spending fell in February.
“The data show we definitely hit a bit of a slowdown in the first quarter, and now investors are getting worried about the upcoming earnings reports,” said Chris Gaffney, a senior market strategist at EverBank Wealth Management.
Many of the stocks that fell the most Wednesday were also some of the biggest gainers during the first three months of the year. The healthcare sector notched the biggest decline in the S&P 500. Even so, it’s up 4.8% this year, leading the nine other sectors in the index.
“We’ve had a long, good run by the equity markets and, at times, investors look for opportunities to maybe take some gains off the table,” Gaffney said.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 77.94 points, or 0.4%, to 17,698.18. The 30company index was down as much as 191 points. It’s down 0.7% for the year.
The S&P 500 dropped 8.16 points, or 0.4%, to 2,059.69. The index is now up 0.04% for the year.
The Nasdaq composite lost 20.66 points, or 0.4%, to 4,880.23. The tech-heavy index ended is up about 3% this year.
Half of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 fell. Telecommunications services led among gainers, rising 0.8%.
Macerich fell the most in the index, sliding $5.60, or 6.6%, to $78.73. It slumped after rival Simon Property Group called off its hostile $16.8-billion takeover bid for the shopping mall operator.