Stocks ended substantially lower Tuesday on the lowest-volume trading day of the year so far, as the Standard & Poor’s 500 slipped back under 17,000 amid further confirmation from the Fed that the great taper is indeed likely to begin next month.
The S&P 500 ended at 1,697.37, down 0.57 percent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.6 percent lower at 15,518.74 points, and the NASDAQ was off 0.74 percent to end at 3,665.77.
Data showing that the US trade deficit has shrunk to its smallest in nearly four years to $34.2 billion, much less than the estimated $44.1 billion was welcome news, but investors were unnerved by comments made by Atlanta Fed Reserve President Dennis Lockhart, who said that the pull-back of the Fed’s stimulus program could take place in September or at any time prior to the end of 2013.
Basic materials stocks dragged on the S&P 500, with losses for Newmont Mining ($NEM), the Mosaic Company ($MOS), and aluminum manufacturer Alcoa ($AA). Services stocks also fell, with Abercrombie & Fitch ($ANF), J.C. Penney Company ($JCP), and Nordstrom ($JWN) ending the day significantly lower.
On the Dow, techs led the way down, with IBM ($IBM) and Hewlett-Packard ($HPQ) off. Shares for IBM were down as a result of Credit Suisse cutting the company’s rating from “neutral” to “underperform.”
Tech shares weighed heavily on the NASDAQ as Facebook ($FB), Groupon ($GRPN), Apple ($AAPL) and Yahoo! ($YHOO) all fell on heavy volume.
Shares for the Washington Post Co. ($WPO) ended the day over 4 percent higher to $593 after Monday’s late announcement that the newspaper would be purchased personally by Amazon.com ($AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos.