Stocks surrendered early gains on Tuesday, ending the day with their fourth straight decline and sending the benchmark S&P 500 to its biggest setback in about three months.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,457.55, down 101.37 points or 0.8 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1441.59, down 15.3 points or 1.1 per cent, marking its biggest one-day tumble since June. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,257.18, down 56.36 points or 0.5 per cent.
With the decline, the S&P 500 has lost ground during six of the past seven trading sessions. It is now just 5 points above where it sat before the Federal Reserve launched its latest round of economic stimulus, on Sept. 13.
The day began with upbeat economic news. The Conference Board's consumer confidence index for September rose to 70.3, hitting a seven-month high and rising well above expectations.
The 20-city S&P Case-Shiller home price index for July rose for a sixth straight month, marking a 1.2 per cent gain in prices over last year and providing more evidence that the U.S. housing sector is coming back to life.
However, Bloomberg News reported that Charles Plosser, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, had some unkind words to say about the Federal Reserve's latest bond-buying program – arguing that it will not boost economic growth or employment.
The stock market losses were broad, hitting all 10 subindexes within the S&P 500. Technology stocks, financials and materials were the hardest hit, falling 1.5 per cent each.
Commodity prices were also hit. Gold gave up most of its earlier gains, closing in New York at $1,766.40 (U.S.) an ounce, up $1.80. Crude oil fell to $91.37 a barrel, down 56 cents. Among commodity producers, Suncor Energy Inc. fell 1.7 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. fell 0.4 per cent.
However, Research In Motion Ltd. rose 5.2 per cent, making it the top performer within the S&P/TSX composite index. It reported that its user base has climbed to 80 million from 78 million at the start of the month.