Investing.com - Stocks sold off Thursday as trade and economic worries took over markets a day after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell painted a rosy picture on the domestic economy.
The Dow was pulled down by weakness in Walgreens Boots Alliance (NASDAQ: WBA ), 3M Company (NYSE: MMM ), Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT ) and Boeing (NYSE: BA ). Boeing was off 1.8% on continued controversy over the 737 Max airliner's developement and subtracted 40 points from the Dow by itself.
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) was up 2.3% after reporting better-than-expected fiscal-fourth-quarter results, was the Dow leader, adding more than 33 points. Apple also contributed 21 points to the Nasdaq 100 index. That index had a better day than either the Dow or S&P 500, finishing the day basically flat.
The slump was set off by a Bloomberg News report suggesting China may well resist signing a comprehensive trade deal, in part because its leaders don't trust President Donald Trumps's impulsive nature. The Dow was down as many as 268 points before bargain hunting set in and cut the Dow's loss nearly in half.
In economic news, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index fell 43.2 for October, its lowest level since Dec. 2015.
The news was a reversal of what Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell described at his news conference on Wednesday after the Fed cut its key interest for the third time this year.
The economy was growing steadily, Powell said, powered by strong consumer spending and job growth. But business investment was weak and trade worries are stressing businesses, especially those that depend on export markets.
But the Fed was probably going to hold off on moving interest rates lower unless something awful happens.
Only two of the 11 S&P 500 sectors were higher -- utilities and communications services, which includes Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ). The weakest sectors were industrial, materials, financial and energy stocks.
The S&P 500 reached new highs during the month and ended October up 2.04%. The Dow had a more modest 0.48% gain. The Nasdaq jumped 3.66%, thanks to big gains in tech stocks, including Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ), Facebook (NASDAQ: FB ) and a host of chip stocks.
For the year, the S&P 500 is up 21.17% with the Dow up 15.9%. The Nasdaq is up nearly 25% with the Nasdaq 100 up 27.7%. The results, if sustained for the year, would be the best since 2013, although the performance is due in large part to the fourth-quarter slump last year.
Interest rates moved lower with the 10-Year Treasury yield falling to 1.686% from Wednesday's 1.796%.
Heart-value maker Abiomed (NASDAQ: ABMD ), food company Kraft Heinz (NASDAQ: KHC ), auto parts distributor LKQ Corporation (NASDAQ: LKQ ) (best known for its Keystone Automotive business) and auto parts maker BorgWarner (NYSE: BWA ) were the top S&P 500 performers on the day.
Chip maker Western Digital (NASDAQ: WDC ), water-treatment company Xylem (NYSE: XYL ), insurance company Lincoln National (NYSE: LNC ) and household-products company Church & Dwight (NYSE: CHD ) were the weakest S&P 500 performers.
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