Stocks suf­fer worst day since May Wor­ries about N. Korea lead to slide in tech, banks, re­tail

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Alex Veiga

Brew­ing ten­sion be­tween the U.S. and North Korea put in­vestors in a sell­ing mood again Thurs­day, drag­ging U.S. stocks lower for the third day in a row.

The lat­est sell-off was the most se­vere yet, amount­ing to the big­gest single-day drop for the stock mar­ket in nearly three months.

Tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies, which have been the big­gest gain­ers this year as the mar­ket hit a suc­ces­sion of record highs, led the broad slide. Banks and depart­ment store shares also were among the big de­clin­ers. Util­i­ties eked out a small gain.

“The mar­ket has been look­ing for an ex­cuse to sell off, and North Korea and the pres­i­dent gave the mar­ket that ex­cuse,” said David Schiegoleit, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at the U.S. Bank Pri­vate Client Wealth Man­age­ment. “As long as it doesn’t go be­yond just a war of words, this is go­ing to be short­lived.”

The Stan­dard & Poor’s 500 in­dex dropped 35.81 points, or 1.5 per­cent, to 2,438.21. The Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age slid 204.69 points, or 0.9 per­cent, to 21,844.01, just shy of its low point for the day.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq com­pos­ite bore the brunt of the sell-off, los­ing 135.46 points, or 2.1 per­cent, to 6,216.87. May 17 was the last time the three in­dexes had a big­ger single-day de­cline.

Smaller-com­pany stocks also fell sharply. The Rus­sell 2000 in­dex gave up 24.40 points, or 1.8 per­cent, to 1,372.54. All of the in­dexes are down for the week.

“There’s not a fun­da­men­tal rea­son why what we’re see­ing out of North Korea right now should af­fect stock mar­ket prices, but it’s be­ing used as the rea­son to sell off right now be­cause we’ve been look­ing for it for so long,” Schiegoleit said.

Head­ing into Thurs­day, 89 per­cent of the com­pa­nies in the S&P 500 had re­ported quar­terly re­sults. Of those, 52 per­cent de­liv­ered earn­ings and rev­enue that beat fi­nan­cial an­a­lysts’ fore­casts, ac­cord­ing to S&P Global Mar­ket In­tel­li­gence.

Oil prices closed lower af­ter an early rally faded. Bench­mark U.S. crude fell 97 cents, or 2 per­cent, to $48.59 a bar­rel on the New York Mer­can­tile Ex­change. Brent crude, used to price in­ter­na­tional oils, slid 80 cents, or 1.5 per­cent, to $51.90.

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