U.S. stocks declined sharply on Wednesday, following the S&P 500’s seventh quarterly gain, as investors fretted global concerns and weighed a report on U.S. manufacturing in September.
“In the here and now, there are too many global-macro concerns for investors to have confidence,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, listing worries about ISIS, Ukraine and Russia, the slowdown in China “and ebola, which is causing things like airline stocks to go down.”
Investors sought safety in U.S. Treasury bonds and gold, and the CBOE Volatility Index, one measure of investor uncertainty, rose.
Biotech companies involved in developing Ebola drugs rose after the first confirmed case of a patient with the disease in the U.S, with Tekmira Pharmaceuticals and Sarepta Therapeutics among those rallying. Carriers including Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways fell on worries the disease might curb air travel. EBay slid after JPMorgan Chase and Jefferies Group downgraded shares of the online auctioneer.
The Institute for Supply Management reported its manufacturing index hit 56.6 last month.
A separate report had construction spending dipping 0.8 percent in August.
“At least for today the economic data are a mixed bag; ISM manufacturing and spending could be characterized as weaker than expected,” said Hogan.
U.S. private employers created 213,000 jobs last month, with the ADP National Employment Report roughly in line with expectations and coming ahead of Friday’s nonfarm payrolls for September.
The jobs report “reverses some of the ill will caused by the recently released consumer sentiment report,” Dan Greenhaus, chief strategist at BTIG, wrote in emailed comments.
In Hong Kong, pro-democracy demonstrations continued for a sixth day, with tens of thousands of protesters calling for the resignation of Leung Chun-ying, the city’s chief executive.
After falling 180 points, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was lately off 177.41 points, or 1 percent, at 16,865.49, with Boeing leading blue-chip losses that extended to all but one of 30 components.
The S&P 500 fell 14.71 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,957.58, with industrials falling hardest among its 10 main sectors.
The Nasdaq dropped 46.75 points, or 1.2 percent, to 4,446.64.
For every two shares rising, three fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 303 million shares traded as of 12:05 p.m. Eastern. Composite volume cleared 1.6 billion.
Bouncing back from the prior day’s sharp decline, crude-oil futures for November delivery rose $1.63, or 1.8 percent, to $92.79 a barrel; gold futures for December delivery rose $6.70, or 0.5 percent, to $1,217.70 an ounce on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
On Tuesday, U.S. stocks fell, with equities posting September losses and quarterly gains, as portfolio managers engaged in end-of-quarter positioning.