Wall Street lower as energy stocks, tariff worries weigh

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Monday as a drop in Brent crude prices dragged energy stocks lower amid a broader market decline due to an escalating trade war between Washington and its trading partners.

The United States’ decision to impose tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods will come into effect on July 6, posing threats of a similar response from Beijing.

Meanwhile, the European Union has threatened to hit the United States with almost $300 billion in retaliatory tariffs, while Canada has vowed to slap punitive measures on $12.63 billion worth of American goods in response to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs.

“I think it’s (the market’s decline) a continued reaction to the trade policy situation,” said Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial.

“We see the United States announce certain unilateral actions, then we’re starting to see some of the responses, and I think the markets are getting increasingly worried.”

Nine of the 11 main S&P 500 sectors were trading lower. They were led by a 1.28 percent fall in the energy index .SPNY on the back of Brent crude LCOc1 which fell about 2 percent. [O/R]

Also weighing on the benchmark index was the 0.67 percent drop in consumer discretionary group .SPLRCD, led by Nike’s (NKE.N) 2.9 percent fall and 0.5 percent decline in (AMZN.O).

Roger Federer’s 20-year association with Nike was hanging by a shoestring as the Wimbledon champion walked on to Centre Court to open the defense of his title wearing a Uniqlo (9983.T) branded outfit.

At 12:44 a.m. EDT the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 111.49 points, or 0.46 percent, at 24,159.92, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 10.39 points, or 0.38 percent, at 2,707.98 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 16.32 points, or 0.22 percent, at 7,493.98.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., June 28, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The three major indexes however pulled back from steeper declines suffered at the start of the session as technology stocks .SPLRCT pared their losses and was last down 0.08 percent.

Also helping the market was Commerce Department data that showed U.S. construction spending increased 0.4 percent in May, more than estimated, amid gains in investment in private and public construction projects.

“Data came well above expectations, that says the dollar strength is not hitting U.S. manufacturers and trade at least so far,” said McMillan.

Boosting the view, was the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) saying national factory activity surged last month, likely as steel and aluminum tariffs disrupted the supply chains, resulting in factories taking longer to deliver goods.

Tesla (TSLA.O) said it hit its target of producing 5,000 Model 3 sedans per week and reaffirmed its profit target. The stock, which rose as much a 6.4 percent, reversed course to trade down 3.4 percent.

Shares of Casino companies fell as gambling revenue in the Chinese territory of Macau rose less than expected in June, which Bank of America said was due to the FIFA World Cup, the fading policy stimulus and trade tension in China.

Wynn Resorts (WYNN.O) sank 8 percent, the most on the S&P 500. Las Vegas Sands (LVS.N) fell 6.8 percent after Bank of America downgraded the stock. MGM Resorts (MGM.N) dropped 2.1 percent.

Dell Technologies took a step closer to become a public company again with a deal to buy the tracking stock of its majority-owned VMware unit. The VMware tracking stock (DVMT.N) jumped 7.6 percent, while VMware (VMW.N) gained 10.3.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.64-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.21-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded one new 52-week highs and 11 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 35 new highs and 52 new lows.

Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur