Business International

Wall Street falls with energy shares; tax angst weighs

Image: A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., November 15, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday as energy sector shares dropped for a fourth straight session, tracking crude prices, while a late run-up was thwarted by concerns over the passage of a tax revamp after Republican senators were critical of the proposal.

Oil prices fell for a fourth session after data showed an unexpected increase in crude and gasoline stockpiles. The S&P 500 energy sector <.SPNY> notched a four-day decline of 4 percent, its weakest such period in 14 months.

“Oil coming off recent highs and as crude prices move so (do) the big energy stocks,” said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

Exxon fell 1.3 percent to $81.21 and Schlumberger dropped 2.0 percent to $61.55 after touching $61.11, its lowest since January 2016.

Brent and U.S. crude both fell after touching last week their highest in almost 2-1/2 years.

Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson said he opposes his party’s Senate tax revamp proposal, the Wall Street Journal reported, while Senator Susan Collins, also a Republican, warned that some middle-income taxpayers could see tax cuts wiped out by higher health insurance premiums if the repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate goes through with the tax bill.

Their comments leave the passage of the tax plan in limbo as the GOP cannot afford to lose more than two votes. Analysts have said the slashing of the corporate tax to 20 percent from its current 35 percent would likely be a boon for the stock market.

The S&P 500 <.SPX>, down 0.3 percent before Johnson’s remarks, ended the day down 0.55 percent at 2,564.62.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 138.19 points, or 0.59 percent, to close at 23,271.28 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 31.66 points, or 0.47 percent, to 6,706.21.

The S&P percentage decline was the largest for any session since Sept. 5.

S&P Dow Jones Indices and MSCI said after the market close they would combine telecommunication, media and entertainment company shares into a single sector in an overhaul of their stock market indexes, including the benchmark S&P 500.

The new sector schematic will take effect in late September 2018. Although the index providers did not disclose names of the companies that will change classification, companies in the affected sectors and subsectors include Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google’s parent Alphabet – the high-performing FANG stocks.

The CBOE Volatility index, a widely followed measure of market anxiety, hit a more than 2-month high at 14.51 and ended up 1.5 points at 13.13.

A rise in both inflation and retail sales sent a signal to the Federal Reserve, which had been concerned about a recent disinflationary trend, setting the U.S. central bank on a path to raise benchmark interest rates in December.

Among the few Wall Street gainers on Wednesday were financial stocks, which rose on prospects of further rate hikes. The S&P 500 bank index added 0.61 percent.

Target shares tumbled 9.9 percent to $54.16 after the retailer issued a disappointing profit forecast for the key holiday quarter.

After the closing bell, Cisco shares rose 5.2 percent after the company reported a 3.1 percent rise in quarterly profit driven by growth in its newer business areas.

Mattel Inc shares fell 1.6 percent in thin after-hours trading after Reuters reported the toy maker has rebuffed Hasbro Inc’s HAS.O latest takeover approach, citing people familiar with the matter.

Procter & Gamble rose more than 2 percent in late trading after activist hedge fund manager Nelson Peltz claimed victory in his fight to win a seat on P&G’s board after a preliminary tally of votes was released on Wednesday, but P&G refused to concede.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.78-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.60-to-1 ratio favored decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 35 new 52-week highs and 19 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 45 new highs and 84 new lows.

About 6.63 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, compared with the 6.79 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.

(Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

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