(Reuters) - The S&P 500 may not yet be in correction territory, but the vast majority of the index’s components have already gotten there.
Spooked by fears of a slowing Chinese economy and the effects of tariffs after weak quarterly reports from Caterpillar Inc and 3M Co, the benchmark index fell 0.55 percent on Tuesday, bringing its drop since a Sept. 20 record high close to nearly 7 percent.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,256 stocks hit 52-week lows, with only 21 establishing new highs, a pattern similar to selloffs on Oct. 10 and Oct. 11 that took the S&P 500 down a combined 5 percent.
While the S&P 500 has yet to decline 10 percent from its high - what many investors consider a correction - three quarters of its components have fallen that much, or worse.
About 353 S&P 500 stocks have fallen 10 percent or more from their 52-week highs. Of those, 179 stocks have fallen by 20 percent or more from their highs, establishing them in a bear market by many investors’ definitions.
Apple Inc, whose $1 trillion market value makes it by far the most heavily weighted stock within the S&P 500, has fallen 4.6 percent from its October 3 record high. That has helped the S&P 500 itself remain out of correction territory.
Industrials on Tuesday were among the market's worst performers, pushing many of those stocks further into correction after Caterpillar disappointed investors by not raising its 2018 earnings forecast and 3M posted its biggest miss in two years.
The S&P 500 materials index has fared worse than others in October, leaving it down 19 percent from its 52-week highs, with the utilities index down just 5 percent.
S&P 500 components deepest in bear market territory include Wynn Resorts Ltd and Western Digital Corp, both highly exposed to China, saw the slowest economic growth in the third quarter since the height of the global financial crisis of 2007-2009.
Nektar Therapeutics and Newell Brands are also among the S&P 500's worst performers.
Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Bill Rigby