Stocks closed lower Tuesday, as data showed the coronavirus pandemic is still holding back the US economy. Retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 1.1% in July from the month before, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. It was a much larger drop than the 0.3% decline Wall Street analysts had expected. Shares of Home Depot fell 4.3% after the company told investors that sales were slowing compared to last year, when locked-down Americans undertook home improvement projects. According to Tuesday’s report, spending fell at stores selling clothing, furniture, and sporting goods. The S&P 500 fell 31.63 points, or 0.7%, to 4,448.08. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 282.12 points, or 0.8%, to 35,343.28. The Nasdaq fell 137.58 points, or 0.9%, to 14,656.18.
Technology firms and a mix of companies that rely on consumer spending dragged the broader market lower as investors become more concerned about the pace and breadth of economic growth amid a resurgent COVID-19. Those sectors tend to perform weakly in uncertain economic conditions. The health care sector was alone in notching broad gains within the benchmark S&P 500. A mix of companies that sell food and personal goods, along with utilities and real estate companies held up better than most of the market as investors shifted money to less risky investments. "There’s really a confluence of factors that are a wall of worry right now," said Mike Stritch, chief investment officer of BMO Wealth Management.
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