Concerns about slowing global growth and the threat of rising tensions between Russia and the West pushed financial markets lower on Thursday.
The stock market started the day higher as investors went over the latest earnings reports and an encouraging report on jobs. By midmorning, though, the market had given up its gains. While stocks slumped, government bond prices rose, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note to its lowest level this year.
Stocks have slumped since the Standard & Poor's 500 index closed at a record last month amid worries that the rising tensions between Russia and the West will hurt global economic growth. European Central Bank head Mario Draghi cautioned Thursday that the crisis in Ukraine could crimp the fragile recovery in the region.
"You're getting some good earnings, but it's just not enough to overwhelm the geopolitical issues," said Drew Wilson, an equity analyst with Fenimore Asset Management.
The S&P 500 index fell 10.67 points, or 0.6 percent, to close at 1,909.57. The index closed at a record 1,987.98 on July 24. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 75.07 points, or 0.5 percent, to 16,368.27. The Nasdaq composite fell 20 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,334.97.
Eight of the 100 industry sectors in the S&P 500 fell. Health care and phone company stocks dropped the most, 1.2 percent and 1 percent respectively. Utilities stocks rose 1.1 percent, making them the biggest gainers, as investors bought safer assets.