Major stock indexes saw their biggest one-day fall in nearly eight weeks on Monday, after U.S. manufacturing data showed a continued contraction in November and fresh trade jitters put investors on the defensive.
What are major indexes doing?
The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.78% fell 268.37 points, or 0.9%, to end at 27,783.04, while the S&P 500 index /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -1.05% lost 27.11 points, or 0.8%, to finish at 3,113.87. The Nasdaq Composite Index /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -1.79% fell 97.48 points or 1.1%, closing at 8,567.99.
The losses were the sharpest one-day percentage and point drops for all three indexes since Oct. 8, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
Stocks also ended lower in an abbreviated session Friday following the Thanksgiving Day holiday, but posted solid November gains. The Dow fell 112.59 points on Friday, or 0.4%, to end at 28,051.41, leaving it with a 3.7% monthly gain. The S&P 500 declined 12.65 points, or 0.4%, to close at 3,140.98, booking a 3.4% monthly rise. The Nasdaq Composite lost 39.70 points, or 0.5%, to end at 8,665.47, notching a 4.5% monthly gain.
What’s driving the market?
Stocks were pulled lower by a disappointing U.S. manufacturing survey that pointed to a fourth straight month of contraction for the sector, with the Institute for Supply Management’s purchasing manager’s index unexpectedly falling to 48.1% in November from 48.3% in October. Economists polled by MarketWatch expected a reading of 49.2%. Readings below 50% reflect business conditions worsening.
“The ISM report wasn’t encouraging, especially if you look at the new orders component,” said Shawn Cruz, manager of trader strategy at TD Ameritrade, in an interview. “Construction also came in on the downside. This puts pressure on the other data points due this week, like the jobs numbers on Friday. Consumer sentiment will be another important data point on Friday.”
The data overshadowed a separate survey on U.S. manufacturing released by Markit on Monday, which showed the sector gaining steam, with a 52.6 reading, versus October’s 52.2.
Andrew Hunter, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, cautioned that manufacturing still wasn’t “out of the woods,” in a client note on Monday, and warned that conditions underlying manufacturing “remain unusually weak.”
Adding to the jitters are higher U.S. stock valuation levels, which Cruz warned can make “the market prone to sudden, fast corrections,” particularly if investors think the slowdown in manufacturing is accelerating, or there are concerns about the health of the consumer.
Investors also got a sharp reminder of the potential for negative trade headlines, with earlier stock gains erased after Trump accused Brazil and Argentina of “presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies, which is not good for our farmers.” Trump tweeted that, effective immediately, “I will restore Tariffs on all Steel & Aluminum that is shipped into the U.S. from those countries.”