Stocks closed broadly lower Thursday on Wall Street, as investors weighed more data showing the economic damage being caused by the coronavirus pandemic and another flareup in tensions between the U.S. and China.
The S&P 500 fell 0.8%, shedding some of the gains it made in a solid rally a day earlier, though it remains on track to end the week sharply higher. Bond yields were mixed. Oil prices closed higher, extending a string of gains.
Technology and health care stocks took some of the heaviest losses. Only industrial sector stocks eked out a gain. Homebuilders, meanwhile, moved broadly higher, extending the group’s solid rally this month.
“It really looks like a little bit of weakness ahead of the long holiday weekend,” said Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist for LPL Financial. U.S. markets will be closed Monday for Memorial Day.
The S&P 500 slid 23.10 points to 2,948.51. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 101.78 points, or 0.4%, to 24,474.12. The Nasdaq composite lost 90.90 points, or 1%, to 9,284.88. Small-company stocks, which have notched the biggest gains this week, bucked the downward trend. The Russell 2000 inched up 0.63 points, less than 0.1%, to 1,347.56.
The selling was tentative at first, but gained momentum as the day progressed. Initially, traders reacted to news that the White House had issued a report attacking China’s economic and military policies, and its human rights violations. The report expands on President Donald Trump’s get-tough rhetoric that he hopes will resonate with voters angry about China’s handling of the disease outbreak.
Meanwhile, the State Department announced that it had approved the sale of advanced torpedoes to the Taiwanese military, a move sure to draw a rebuke from Beijing, which regards the island as a renegade province.