Wall St slides as strong dollar, trade fears trigger risk aversion

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NEW YORK (Aug 15): The three main U.S. stock indexes slid more than 1% on Wednesday in a broad decline over concerns about the strengthening dollar, Turkey's currency crisis and United States' trade relations with its partners.

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with energy and metal and mining companies hit by rising commodity prices. While trade-sensitive companies such as Boeing and Caterpillar fell, even the usually trade-agnostic technology stocks dropped.

The dollar index hovered near a 13-month high, also bumped by strong U.S. retail sales. U.S. crude oil prices slid nearly 4%, while metal prices fell on the greenback's strength, which also hits the overseas income of U.S. multinationals.

"The rise of the dollar is causing the investors to take a risk-off trade right now," said Jeff Carbone, managing partner for Cornerstone Wealth in Charlotte, North Carolina.

"Investors are looking at short-term concerns such as Turkey, tariffs and overlooking longer term opportunity that is taxes, strong earnings and economic data."

Turkey doubled tariffs on some U.S. imports in retaliation to U.S. moves, while Beijing lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization to help determine the legality of U.S. tariff and subsidy policies.

MSCI's widely tracked 24-country emerging market stocks index entered a technical bear market, as fresh selling took its drop since late January to 20%.

The S&P energy sector tumbled 3.51% and the materials sector slid 2.49%. The industrial sector fell 1.55%, with Caterpillar slumping 3.3% and Boeing declining 2.5%.

The technology sector fell 1.55%. Only the defensive utilities and real estate sectors were posting gains.

"It's more about where people are finding their safety net and right now it's in utilities and not technology stocks, which is bit more of risk-on," said Carbone.

At 11:01 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 302.28 points or 1.19% at 24,997.64; the S&P 500 was down 33.84 points or 1.19% at 2,806.12; and the Nasdaq Composite was down 126.64 points or 1.61% at 7,744.25.

The high-flying FAANG stocks — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google-parent Alphabet — fell between 0.4% and 4%.

Macy's sank 12.1% on concerns over the company's gross margin forecast for the fall season.

The forecast dragged down other retailers. The S&P 500 retailers index slid 1.77%, despite data showing U.S. retail sales rose more than expected in July.

Nordstrom and JC Penney, both of which report results on Thursday, fell 5.5% and 8% respectively. Walmart, which also reports on Thursday, dipped 0.9%.

Retailers make up the majority of the S&P 500 companies yet to report results. Of the 460 companies that have reported, 79.1% have beaten analysts' estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Tesla fell 3.9% after Fox News tweeted the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had subpoenaed the company over its go-private plans and CEO Elon Musk's statement on funding the plan.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 3.78-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 4.77-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. The S&P index recorded seven new 52-week highs and 11 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 44 new highs and 115 new lows.