Stocks ended modestly lower and bond prices rose on Wall Street Thursday as investors turned cautious, shifting money into lower-risk holdings.
The selling, which lost some of its momentum toward the end of the day, came as traders weighed the implications of the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump and new government data showing slower U.S. economic growth.
Communication services, health care and energy stocks accounted for a big slice of the sell-off, which erased some of the market’s gains from the day before.
Consumer product makers, real estate companies and utilities, which are viewed as more defensive sectors, notched gains. Bond prices rose, pulling down the yield on the 10-year Treasury to 1.69% from 1.73% late Wednesday.
The U.S. congressional inquiry into President Trump is throwing more volatility into an already sensitive market, particularly on trade issues. Traders also found no comfort in the Commerce Department’s latest economic snapshot, which showed the U.S. economy grew at a modest 2% in the second quarter, a sharply lower pace than the 3%-plus growth rates seen over the past year.
“We’re giving back, clearly, some of yesterday’s gains,” said Jeramey Lynch, global investment specialist at J.P. Morgan Private Bank. “It’s just the uncertainty.”
The S&P 500 index fell 7.25 points, or 0.2%, to 2,977.62. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 79.59 points, or 0.3%, to 26,891.12. The Nasdaq dropped 46.72 points, or 0.6%, to 8,030.66.
Smaller company stocks bore the brunt of the selling, sending the Russell 2000 down 17.33 points, or 1.1%, to 1,533.33.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are each on track for their second straight weekly loss as volatile trading brought on by anxiety over trade issues takes its toll. The late September slide has been cutting into quarterly gains for the S&P 500 and all but erased the Nasdaq’s third-quarter gain.
Stocks got off to a mostly lower start Thursday ahead of a televised congressional hearing in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump. The markets fluctuated the rest of the morning, but remained lower through much of the afternoon.
While many analysts say the congressional probe isn’t likely to affect the market significantly, it does add a degree of uncertainty and could complicate the White House’s efforts to resolve trade disputes with China and other nations.