Stocks close lower in thinly traded session; GE has biggest drop since June 2016
U.S. stocks closed lower on Monday, with the Nasdaq ending a nine-day rally as investors found few reasons to push shares deeper into record territory in a thinly traded session.
The U.S. bond market was closed in observance of Columbus Day, which contributed to the light trading action in equities.
What did stock benchmarks do?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.06% dipped 12.6 points, or less than 0.1%, to 22,761, though it hit an intraday record of 22,803.37 in early trading. The S&P 500 SPX, -0.18% slipped 4.6 points, or 0.2%, to 2,545. The benchmark equity index traded less than a point from its own intraday peak at its high of the session. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -0.16% lost 10.5 points to 6,580, a drop of about 0.2%, though the tech-heavy index touched an all-time high of 6,599.34 in early trading.
Recent trading has had a pronounced upward bias. The Nasdaq ended a nine-day rally on Monday, while the S&P 500 has ended higher in eight of the past ten sessions.
About 34.7 million shares exchanged hands on the SPDR S&P 500 ETF TrustSPY, -0.17% significantly below the fund’s 30-day average and marking the lowest-volume day since Aug. 7. The ETF is typically one of the more actively traded securities on any given day.
Six of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors ended lower on the day, though health care was a particular laggard, off 0.7%. The decline came on speculation thatAmazon.com Inc. AMZN, +0.14% is considering an entry into the industry. Express Scripts Holding Co. ESRX, -5.04% fell 5% as one of the biggest percentage losers in the sector.
On the upside, the energy sector rose 0.3%.
So far this year, the Dow has gained 15.2%, the S&P is up 13.7%, and the Nasdaq Composite has risen 22.2%.
What strategists and traders saying?
“We don’t really have any economic news. It’s slightly directionless, but there’s a bit of weakness in the overall market. People are just a little anxious heading into the beginning of earnings season, and its an odd day with some markets closed for trading,” said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist for Boston Private Wealth Management.
“There’s a lot of talking heads who have come out saying the market is overbought, and this is weighing on investors’ minds. But you’re also hearing the market has further to go from the same market insiders,” he said, suggesting the conflicting views on the record rally in stocks had limited further gains.
Which stocks are in focus?
General Electric Co. GE, -3.94% shares weighed on blue-chips, down 3.9% after several high-profile departures under new Chief Executive Officer John Flannery, who is under pressure to reboot the company from activist investor Trian Fund Management. The industrial conglomerate is down nearly 26% thus far this year, and Monday marked the biggest one-day percentage drop for GE since June 2016.
Shares in data-center company Switch Inc. SWCH, -8.78% fell 8.8% after they surged 23% on Friday in the company’s trading debut.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT, +1.94% led Dow gainers, up 1.9%, amid reports of aspeedier return process.
What are other assets doing?
European stocks SXXP, +0.19% finished slightly higher, helped by Spain’s IBEX benchmark IBEX, +0.50% rallying after last week’s tumble that was sparked by Catalonia edging toward secession. The independence movement lately has faced counterprotests and companies threatening to leave the restive region. Asian markets closed mostly higher.
Oil futures CLX7, +0.16% and gold contracts GCZ7, -0.01% gained, while the ICE U.S. Dollar Index DXY, -0.01% was off slightly. Analysts said gold was drawing haven demand thanks to a renewed war of words between North Korea and President Trump.
Turkey’s lira USDTRY, +0.1675% was sharply lower against the dollar as a diplomatic spat weighed. The U.S. and Turkey on Sunday stopped issuing nonimmigrant visas to each others’ citizens, in a development that followed the arrest of a U.S. consulate employee in Istanbul.