Stocks ended the session sharply lower Wednesday as data releases renewed fears of a slowing global economy. The S&P 500 lost 1.8% to close below its 100-day moving average and notch the index’s first ever back-to-back 1% decline to start the fourth quarter. The Dow dropped 494 points, while the Nasdaq Composite tumbled 1.6%.
Tuesday’s manufacturing PMI report from ISM continued to weigh on investor sentiment. The release indicated U.S. manufacturing activity fell to the weakest level since June 2009. That followed soft manufacturing figures across the eurozone. Also providing a headwind was a report this morning from ADP that revealed 135,000 jobs were added in the private sector in September, below expectations and August’s downwardly revised figure. Overseas, the broad Euro STOXX 600 retreated the most in 10 months, while the FTSE 100 in London experienced its largest drop since 2016 after U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned of a hard Brexit. Perceived safe haven assets rallied, with COMEX gold adding 1.1% to $1,497.70/ounce. Treasuries strengthened, with the yield on the 10-year note lower for a fifth straight day, declining four basis points to 1.60%.
Ten of 11 S&P 500 sectors fell more than 1%, with all groups firmly in negative territory. Energy stocks paced the decline as WTI crude lost 1.1% to $52.57/barrel. Automakers slumped after Ford’s quarterly sales figures fueled worries over diminishing profit margins in the auto industry. Homebuilder Lennar bucked the downward trend, climbing 3.8% after topping analyst profit and sales estimates. Johnson and Johnson, the lone advancer in the Dow, gained 1.4% after announcing it had settled two opioid related lawsuits.