U.S. stocks turned in a weak performance on Wednesday, drifting lower and lower as the session progressed amid rising tensions in the Middle East, and higher bond yields on concerns about the outlook for interest rates.
According to reports, a deadly missile attack on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza killed several hundred people including women and children.
Hamas attributed the blast to an Israeli airstrike, but the Israeli military said it was not involved and the explosion was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket.
The major averages all ended notably lower, with the Nasdaq suffering a more pronounced loss. The Dow ended down 332.57 points or 0.98 percent at 33,665.08. The S&P 500 finished lower by 58.60 points or 1.34 percent at 4,314.60, while the Nasdaq dropped 219.44 points or 1.62 percent to 13,314.30.
Airline stocks were among the major losers. The NYSE Arca Airline Index dropped 4.61 percent, recording its lowest intraday level in three years.
Wallgreens Boots Alliance tumbled 7 percent. Morgan Stanley dropped 6.8 percent. Caterpillar, American Airlines, Pfizer, Charles Schwab, General Motors, Netflix, Salesforce, J&J, Target, Merck and Amazon lost 2 to 5 percent.
P&G rallied 2.3 percent. McDonalds, Marathon Petroleum, Colgate Palmolive, Exxon Mobil and PepsiCo gained 1 to 2 percent.
Tesla drifted down 4.8 percent after the company’s earnings missed estimates. Nvidia ended nearly 4 percent down amid concerns over the tighter U.S. curbs on exports of its A800 and H800 chips to China.
On the U.S. economic front, a report released by the Commerce Department showed a substantial rebound in new residential construction in the U.S. in the month of September.
The Commerce Department said housing starts spiked by 7.0 percent to an annual rate of 1.358 million in September after plunging by 12.5 percent to a revised rate of 1.269 million in August.
Economists had expected housing starts to jump to a rate of 1.380 million from the 1.283 million originally reported for the previous month.
Meanwhile, the report said building permits tumbled by 4.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.475 million in September after surging by 6.8 percent to a revised rate of 1.541 million in August.
Building permits, an indicator of future housing demand, were expected to decrease to a rate of 1.450 million from the 1.543 million originally reported for the previous month.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance during trading on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index ended the day just above the unchanged line, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index slid by 0.8 percent.
The major European market closed notably lower as worries about Middle East tensions, and inflation concerns offset stronger than expected GDP data from China.
The pan European Stoxx 600 declined 1.05 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 ended down 1.14 percent, Germany’s DAX drifted down 1.03 percent, and France’s CAC 40 lost 0.91 percent.
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