Technology companies led a broad slide in U.S. stocks late Thursday afternoon, putting the market on track for its biggest loss in two months. Financial companies and department store operators were among the big decliners. Simmering tensions between the U.S. and North Korea weighed on the market for the third day in a row.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 30 points, or 1.2 percent, to 2,443 as of 3:25 p.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 159 points, or 0.7 percent, to 21,889. The Nasdaq composite lost 114 points, or 1.8 percent, to 6,237. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 18 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,378.
SIMMERING TENSIONS: On Thursday, the U.S. and North Korea continued to exchange threats. Early in the day, North Korea revealed a detailed plan to launch a salvo of ballistic missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, a major military hub and home to U.S. bombers. Later, speaking to reporters, President Donald Trump demanded that North Korea "get their act together" or face extraordinary trouble. The back and forth put investors in a selling mood for the third day in a row. The VIX, a measure of how much volatility investors expect in stocks, jumped 37.1 percent, the biggest increase since May.
THE QUOTE: "The market has been looking for an excuse to sell off and North Korea and the president gave the market that excuse," said David Schiegoleit, managing director at the U.S. Bank Private Client Wealth Management. "As long as it doesn't go beyond just a war of words, this is going to be short-lived."
TECH SLIDE: Technology stocks, which lead all other sector stocks with a gain of more than 20 percent this year, fell the most. Nvidia fell $6.08, or 3.5 percent, to $166.03. Advanced Micro Devices gave up 62 cents, or 4.8 percent, to $12.22.
FINANCIALS FALLING: Several financial sector companies also helped pull down the market. Bank of New York Mellon fell $1.74, or 3.2 percent, to $52.30, while Citizens Financial Group slid $1.11, or 3.2 percent, to $33.92.
RETAIL SLUMP: Disappointing quarterly results from big department store chains put investors in a selling mood. Macy's was down 10.2 percent after the company said its sales continued to decline in the second quarter. The stock fell $2.35 to $20.68. Dillard's slumped 15.3 percent after the chain booked a loss for the second quarter as increased inventory led to big discounts. Its shares tumbled $11.25 to $62.09. Kohl's also declined, sliding $2.53, or 6 percent, to $39.41.
UNDERCOOKED: Blue Apron slumped 18.2 percent after the meal kit seller reported a sequential decline in customers in the second quarter due to a planned reduction in marketing. The trend appeared to overshadow strong quarterly revenue growth in the quarter. The stock fell $1.13 to $5.11.
BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.21 percent from 2.25 percent late Wednesday.
OIL: The price of oil gave up early gains. Benchmark U.S. crude fell 97 cents, or 2 percent, to $48.59 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, slid 80 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $51.90. In other energy futures trading, wholesale gasoline dropped 2 cents to $1.60 a gallon, heating oil shed 2 cents to $1.63 a gallon and natural gas rose 10 cents, or 3.5 percent, to $2.99 per 1,000 cubic feet.
METALS: Gold added $10.80, or 0.8 percent, to settle at $1,290.10 an ounce. Silver gained 20 cents, or 1.2 percent, to $17.07 an ounce. Copper fell 2 cents to $2.90 a pound.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 109.26 yen from 109.85 late Wednesday. The euro rose to $1.1774 from $1.1752.
MARKETS OVERSEAS: Major indexes in Europe slumped. Germany's DAX fell 1.1 percent, while the CAC 40 in France lost 0.6 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 sank 1.4 percent. Earlier in Asia, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped less than 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng slid 1.1 percent. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.5 percent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged down nearly 0.1 percent.