NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street’s main indexes fell slightly on Thursday as support from better-than-feared U.S. GDP data was countered by concerns about earnings and U.S.-China trade relations.
Also on Thursday, President Donald Trump said he had walked out of his Vietnam summit with Kim Jong Un because of demands from the North Korean leader to lift U.S.-led sanctions.
Commerce Department data on Thursday showed that while the U.S. economy missed a 3 percent annual growth target for 2018, a better-than-expected fourth quarter pushed gross domestic product up 2.9 percent for the year.
But investors were cautious, nothing that the S&P has risen 11 percent year-to-date at the same time as expectations for current quarter earnings have turned negative.
That’s a “disconnect that needs to be reconciled” said Terry Sandven, portfolio manager and chief equity strategist at U.S. Bank in Minneapolis.
Wall Street analysts now expect first-quarter earnings to fall 1.1 percent compared with Jan. 1 estimates for 5.3 percent growth, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
“This week we’ve lacked directional drivers. Fourth quarter earnings is coming to a quick close and there’s been no news on the U.S.-China trade negotiations. On balance, we’re due for a period of consolidation and retrenchment,” said Sandven.
Investors were also unimpressed by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow’s assurance Thursday that U.S.-China trade negotiations were moving forward after “fantastic” progress made last week.
“Unlike a month ago, where a statement by an official was probably sufficient to push stocks higher, it no longer is. It’s time for concrete progress,” said Oliver Pursche, chief market strategist at Bruderman Asset Management in New York.
“What’s pushing markets down and counterpointing GDP is the concern about corporate earnings.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 69.16 points, or 0.27 percent, to 25,916, the S&P 500 lost 7.89 points, or 0.28 percent, to 2,784.49 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 21.98 points, or 0.29 percent, to 7,532.53.
The S&P and Dow both registered their third straight day of losses on Thursday.
Of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors, the materials sector was the biggest percentage decliner with a 1.27 percent drop, while the energy sector was the second biggest percentage loser, with a 0.97 percent fall. [O/R]
The healthcare sector fell 0.3 percent with drags from UnitedHealth, down 3 percent on concerns about the potential for a single-payer U.S. healthcare system.
Also, Celgene Corp fell 8.6 percent after activist investor Starboard Value LP said it will vote against drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co’s proposed $74 billion acquisition of the biotech company. Bristol-Myers rose 1.4 percent.
Booking Holdings Inc fell 10.96 percent after missing quarterly earnings expectations and was the biggest single-stock drag on the S&P. Also dragging on the S&P was HP Inc, which plunged about 17.3 percent after it reported revenue that missed analysts’ estimates.
Monster Beverage Corp jumped 8.7 percent, making it the biggest percentage gainer on the S&P, after it beat Wall Street estimates for quarterly revenue and profit.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.30-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.41-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 40 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 57 new highs and 34 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 8.22 billion shares, compared to the 7.34 billion-share average for the last 20 sessions.
Additional reporting by April Joyner in New York, Shreyashi Sanyal and Medha Singh in Bengaluru; editing by Anil D'Silva, Sriraj Kalluvila and Jonathan Oatis