Banks and technology companies led a broad slide for stocks Tuesday on Wall Street, snapping the market's four-day winning streak.
The S&P 500 lost 0.6%, giving back some of its gains from a day earlier. The pullback came as many forces are pushing and pulling on markets simultaneously. Coronavirus counts are rising at a worrying rate in many countries, a trend that's increasing the urgency behind efforts to develop treatments.
On Tuesday, independent monitors paused enrollment in a study testing the covid-19 antiviral drug remdesivir plus an experimental antibody therapy being developed by Eli Lilly. The company said the study was paused "out of an abundance of caution." The news followed a disclosure late Monday by Johnson & Johnson, which said it had to temporarily pause a late-stage study of a potential covid-19 vaccine "due to an unexplained illness in a study participant."
The S&P 500 fell 22.29 points to 3,511.93. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 157.71 points, or 0.55%, to 28,679.81. The Nasdaq composite gave up an early gain, slipping 12.36 points, or 0.1%, to 11,863.90.
Meanwhile, uncertainty about the prospects for more stimulus for the economy from Washington continues to hang over markets.
"Absent of getting any kind of fiscal stimulus, we've already seeing a leveling off in economic growth and some weakening under the surface, " Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab. "There's concern that without that additional fiscal stimulus the economy could run into a little bit of trouble here."
Stocks have been mostly pushing higher this month. Already the major stock indexes have recouped their losses from September's market swoon.
Tuesday's market slide came as the third-quarter earnings reporting season got underway. Investors will be looking for some measure of clarity over the next several weeks as chief executives line up to report how their companies fared during the summer. Wall Street is expecting another sharp drop in profits for the third quarter, nearly 21% for S&P 500 earnings per share from a year earlier. But if that proves correct, it would not be as bad as the nearly 32% plunge for the spring, according to FactSet.
Several companies kicked the season off on Tuesday with better-than-expected reports. JPMorgan Chase, Johnson & Johnson, Citigroup and BlackRock all reported stronger results for the summer than analysts had forecast.
Their stocks, though, closed mixed. BlackRock rose 3.9%, while JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup gave up initial gains and fell 1.6% and 4.8%, respectively. Johnson & Johnson dropped 2.3% and Eli Lilly fell 2.9%.
Delta Air Lines reported a worse loss than Wall Street had forecast, as the pandemic keeps many flyers grounded, and its shares slid 2.7%.
Other airlines and travel-related companies were also weak, and Royal Caribbean dropped 13.2% for the biggest loss in the S&P 500. The cruise operator said it will sell up to $575 million of stock to raise cash.
On the winning side was the Walt Disney Co., which climbed 3.2% for one of the bigger gains in the S&P 500 after it announced a major reorganization of its company to focus on Disney Plus and its other streaming services.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 0.72% from 0.79% late Friday. Treasury markets were closed Monday for a holiday.
A government report showed that prices for consumers were 0.2% higher in September than August. That matched economists' expectations, and it also showed that month-over-month inflation has slowed since strengthening in the summer.
Lower inflation gives the Federal Reserve more leeway to keep interest rates low, though it has said it may keep its benchmark rate at nearly zero even if inflation tops its 2% target.