Stocks closed broadly lower and bond prices rose sharply Tuesday on Wall Street after President Donald Trump cast doubt over the potential for a trade deal with China this year.
Technology companies, banks and industrial stocks accounted for much of the sell-off, which extended the S&P 500's losing streak to a third day. Utilities and real estate stocks rose as traders favored less-risky assets.
Trump said he has “no deadline” for a trade deal and doesn't mind waiting until after the 2020 election to make one. Investors had been hoping for a deal this year, or at least enough progress to stave off new U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, including smartphones and laptops, scheduled to start Dec. 15.
Tensions between the two nations flared anew last week after Trump signed legislation expressing U.S. support for pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong.
“We're running out of time and the markets are finally woken up to 'Hey, there's a risk out there and maybe things aren't going to be all good after all,'” said Randy Frederick, vice president of trading & derivatives at Charles Schwab.
The S&P 500 index fell 20.67 points, or 0.7%, to 3,093.20. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 280.23 points, or 1%, to 27,502.81. The index was briefly down 457 points.
The Nasdaq dropped 47.34 points, or 0.6%, to 8,520.64. The Russell 2000 index of smaller company stocks gave up 4.95 points, or 0.3%, to 1,602.63.
Pressure has been building on Washington and Beijing to complete what Trump has called a limited phase one deal before the new tariffs on Chinese goods kick in this month.
“We're less than two weeks away from new tariffs that will be implemented on a bunch of consumer goods that have never had tariffs on them, and I think that's when the consumer really starts to feel the pain,” Frederick said.
The lack of a trade deal before the year ends could mean the market is in for a turnaround from a strong, record-setting November. The S&P 500 had its best month since June with a 3.4% gain because of cooling trade tensions and optimism that a resolution to the dispute was near.
December is a typically solid month for the stock market.