December 20, 2014
Wall Street ends slightly lower; Chipotle rises late
US stocks slipped today as investors remained cautious about instability in Ukraine and Gaza, though the three major indexes ended well off their lows, a sign that some appetite for riskier assets remained.
The S&P 500 fell as much as 0.6 percent, though it recovered most of those losses and closed right above its 14-day moving average, suggesting buyers were using weakness to come back into the market. Still, the day's losses were broad, and nine of the 10 primary S&P 500 sector indexes fell.
The S&P energy sector index represented the only positive group, up 0.2 percent. US crude oil for August delivery shot up 1.4 percent to settle at $104.59 ahead of Tuesday's contract expiry.
Violence escalated in the Gaza Strip despite growing international calls for a cease-fire. The Palestinian death toll rose above 500 while Israel's losses also mounted. While the impact to the US economy is seen as minimal, investors are concerned about the fallout from an extended period of increased violence as well as the prospect that it could spread to other parts of the Middle East.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 48.45 points or 0.28 percent, to end at 17,051.73. The S&P 500 declined 4.59 points or 0.23 percent, to finish at 1,973.63. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.44 points or 0.17 percent, to close at 4,424.70.
European shares fell as fighting erupted in eastern Ukraine, the first major eruption of violence there since a Malaysian airliner was shot down last week.
Calls are multiplying in the West for new sanctions against Moscow over last week's downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight over eastern Ukraine, widely blamed on pro-Russian separatists. Russia challenged the accusations on Monday.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 closed 0.5 percent lower at 1,355.84 points. The euro zone Euro STOXX 50 fell 0.9 percent to 3,137.06 points.
The five-month conflict in Ukraine has added to concerns for European exporters already struggling with unfavourable currency fluctuations.
Peugeot's shares dropped 3.7 percent after it said deliveries fell 25.8 percent in Russia, 26.8 percent in Latin America and 37.2 percent in Africa and the Middle East.
Shares in Fiat and Renault each shed over 1 percent despite encouraging sales figures from Europe's peripheral markets, leaving the STOXX 600 auto and parts index down 1.1 percent.