NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stock indexes fell on Wednesday as weak results from CSX Corp stoked concerns that the protracted trade war between the United States and China could hurt corporate earnings.
CSX (CSX.O) shares tumbled 10.3%, their biggest one-day drop since 2008, after the rail freight company posted lower-than-expected quarterly profit and cut its full-year revenue forecast. Ongoing trade tensions have contributed to a decline in truck and rail freight volumes in the first half of 2019.
CSX was one of the biggest drags on the S&P 500 index, along with Union Pacific Corp (UNP.N) and Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKb.N), which owns BNSF Railway. Union Pacific, whose shares dropped 6.1%, reports results on Thursday.
The losses in shares of rail companies helped push down the S&P 500 industrials index .SPLRCI, whose 2.2% slide was the largest among the S&P’s 11 major sectors. The Dow Jones Transportation Average .DJT fell 3.6%.
The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, a compendium of anecdotes from U.S. businesses, also pointed to trade-related pressures on transportation and manufacturing companies.
“The trade concerns are such an uncertainty,” said Stephen Carl, principal and head of U.S. equity trading at the Williams Capital Group in New York. “It could be a huge negative impact. Costs are going to be coming from higher tariffs.”
But persistent trade-related concerns are a critical factor supporting expected interest-rate cuts from the Federal Reserve later this month, said Ed Campbell, portfolio manager and managing director at QMA in Newark, New Jersey. The anticipation of rate cuts has helped propel U.S. stocks to new highs in the past week.
“One of the things Trump is doing with trade is he’s using it as a cudgel against the Fed,” Campbell said. “The Fed is citing uncertainty relating to trade as a reason they’re open to cutting rates.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 115.78 points, or 0.42%, to 27,219.85, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 19.62 points, or 0.65%, to 2,984.42 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 37.59 points, or 0.46%, to 8,185.21.
Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) rose 0.7% after posting a profit beat, though the company lowered its annual net interest income forecast.
Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) shares tumbled in aftermarket trade after the company reported quarterly results. They were last down nearly 11%.
Profit for S&P 500 companies is expected to rise 0.4% in the second quarter from a year ago, according to Refinitiv IBES data.
Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N) shares rose 3.1% after the medical device maker topped quarterly profit estimates and lifted its full-year adjusted earnings forecast.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.67-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.73-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 25 new 52-week highs and three new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 58 new highs and 86 new lows.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.1 billion shares, compared to the 6.66 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.
Reporting by April Joyner; Additional reporting by Evan Sully in New York and Medha Singh and Uday Sampath Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty, Shounak Dasgupta and Jonathan Oatis