U.S. stocks fell, sending the Dow Jones industrial average to the lowest level since April, as concern that the Ukraine conflict is escalating offset better-than-estimated earnings and a drop in American jobless claims.
Health care companies tumbled 1.2 percent as Aetna Inc. dropped 4 percent. Tyson Foods Inc. slid 2 percent after Russia banned billions of dollars of food imports from the U.S. and other nations in retaliation for sanctions. 21st Century Fox Inc. climbed 5 percent as “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Rio 2” led to a jump in income at its film business.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 0.6 percent to 1,909.57, closing below its average price for the past 100 days for the first time since April.
The Dow dropped 75.07 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,368.27, close to its 200-day moving average. About 6.2 billion shares traded hands on U.S. exchanges, 6.8 percent above the three-month average.
“The uncertainty over the situation in Ukraine has overshadowed the positive economic data we saw earlier today,” John Manley, who helps oversee about $233 billion as chief equity strategist for Wells Fargo Funds Management in New York, said in a phone interview. “The market has adapted to the positive data, but when it comes to geopolitical tensions, it’s hard to adapt. Tensions rise, and we’re reaching the last level before the situation spins out of control.”
The S&P 500 has lost 3.9 percent since reaching a record of 1,987.98 July 24 and is about 60 points away from wiping out its gains for 2014.
In the U.S., data showed fewer Americans filed applications for unemployment benefits last week, sending the average over the past month to an eight-year low, a sign the labor market continues to gain momentum.
Aetna paced declines among health care companies, sliding 4 percent as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its rating on the company to neutral from buy. Humana Inc. slumped 3.4 percent, and WellPoint Inc. lost 3.6 percent.
Tyson Foods, the largest meat producer in the U.S., slipped 2 percent. While Russia is the second-biggest market for U.S. chicken, its share of export volume has fallen to 7 percent from 40 percent in the mid-1990s, according to a joint statement from the U.S.-based National Chicken Council and USDA Poultry & Egg Export Council.
Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. declined 5.7 percent. The owner of HGTV and the Travel Channel reported second-quarter revenue that missed analyst estimates.
Harman International Industries Inc., which makes technology for auto-navigation systems, slid 4 percent as it forecast 2015 earnings below projections.
Fox rose 5 percent. Fourth-quarter profit topped analysts’ estimates one day after the company dropped its $75 billion bid for Time Warner Inc. Box office sales from “X-Men: Days of Future Past” and “Rio 2,” along with the addition of the YES Network, helped overcome a tough climate for cable ads and Fox Broadcasting’s struggle to develop hits to succeed the fading “American Idol.”
Symantec Corp. climbed 1 percent. The biggest computer-security software maker is getting a boost as demand picks up for anti-hacking tools, with revenue and profit topping estimates in the fiscal first quarter.