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U.S. stocks declined on Monday to put the S&P 500 on track for its worst session of the year as early signals from President Donald Trump highlighting a protectionist stance on trade put investors on the defensive.
In his latest executive order, Trump signed to formally withdraw the United States from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific partnership trade deal.
Trump has also vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with leaders of Canada and Mexico.
“Given that the President’s first order of business is challenging trade deals, it has probably caught a number of optimistic investors off balance,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago.
“Investors were positioning for tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks out of the gate. Perhaps they are impatient but they are certainly disappointed.”
Earlier in the day, Trump met with a dozen prominent American manufacturers at the White House and said he would slash regulations and cut corporate taxes to boost the economy. Trump also plans to meet with leaders of construction and sheet metal unions on Monday and automotive executives Tuesday.
The post-election rally led Wall Street to repeated highs since the election but has stalled recently, with the S&P 500 having registered consecutive weekly declines, as investors have become wary about the potential impact of an isolationist stance on world trade.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI fell 49.49 points, or 0.25 percent, to 19,777.76, the S&P 500 .SPX lost 9.51 points, or 0.42 percent, to 2,261.8 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 11.81 points, or 0.21 percent, to 5,543.52.
The dollar .DXY touched a seven-week low of 100.18 against a basket of major currencies, while prices of safe-haven gold hit a two-month high.
Energy stocks .SPNY, down 1.2 percent, were the worst performing of the 11 major S&P sectors, as oil prices eased on signs of a strong recovery in U.S. drilling. Halliburton (HAL.N) also weighed on the sector, down 2.8 percent after the world’s No. 2 oilfield services provider reported a bigger loss in the latest quarter.
Real estate .SPLRCR was the only sector in positive territory.
Qualcomm (QCOM.O) tumbled more than 11 percent to $55.68 after Apple (AAPL.O) filed a $1-billion lawsuit against the chip supplier on Friday. Qualcomm was on track for its worst day since November 2015 and was the biggest drag on the S&P and the Nasdaq.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.09-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.73-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 15 new 52-week highs and 6 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 72 new highs and 38 new lows.
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