Equities Drop in US as Trade Tensions and Earnings Results Sink Sentiment

The benchmark US stock measures sank on Wednesday as downbeat earnings results and renewed trade tensions weighed on sentiment.

Turkey’s move to hit back at the US by doubling tariffs on several imports ignited geopolitical jitters that had eased on Tuesday and allowed the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Standard & Poor’s 500 to stem four-day losing streaks.

Energy shares plunged more than 3% on the S&P 500, leading the retreat for seven of the 11 sectors as crude oil futures sank after data showed a rise in US stockpiles of the key commodity. Chevron (CVX) skidded 3.3% and Exxon Mobil (XOM) lost 2.2% as more than two thirds of the Dow’s blue chips retreated.

The trade-sensitive Dow components were among the sharpest decliners, with Caterpillar (CAT) shedding 3.9%, Boeing (BA) losing 2.8% and DowDuPont (DWDP) shedding 2.6%. The S&P’s industrials group dropped 1.4% and materials sank 2.3%.

Consumer discretionary fell 1.6% as investors punished Macy’s (M), which reported better-than-expected quarterly results, but a decrease in sales and a slower pace of comparable-store sales growth than the preceding three months. The retailer sank 12%, dragging down peers like J.C. Penney (JCP), which fell 8.1% and Nordstrom (JWN), which lost 5.6%.

The selloff stretched across the globe, with the Shanghai Composite dropping 2.1%, the Hang Seng down 1.6% and the Nikkei 225 losing 0.7%. In Europe, the CAC fell 1.9% while the Dax and the FTSE 100 lost 1.6% each.

The day’s economic data couldn’t dent the negative sentiment, even as July retail sales topped expectations at 0.5% as restaurants posted a strong monthly gain. The August Empire State manufacturing index rose to 25.6 from 22.6, beating estimates for a print of 20.

In late morning trading, the Nasdaq was down 1.7% while the Dow and S&P 500 both retreated 1.2%.