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Stocks Slip on Disappointing Retail Earnings

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11/19/2019 | 01:22pm EST

By Anna Isaac and Paul Vigna

U.S. stocks broke off their record pace Tuesday after a round of weak earnings reports from retailers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 108 points, or 0.4%, to 27946. The S&P 500 dropped 0.1%, and the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.3%. All three indexes closed at records Monday.

A drop here isn't really a surprise, said Nick Reece, senior analyst at Merk Investments. "We've seen sentiment get pretty optimistic," he said. "It's probably a little over-stretched."

Shares of retailers were among the biggest decliners in Tuesday's session as the group began reporting third-quarter results. Dow component Home Depot shares fell 5.2% after the retailer trimmed its expectations for sales growth. Shares of Kohl's dropped 18% after it lowered its profit guidance for the year. That is its worst one-day drop since January 2017.

The disappointing outlook from both companies weighed on the stocks of other U.S. retailers, as investors grew concerned about the health of a sector that has been strong so far this year. Macy's, which is scheduled to report earnings later in the week, fell 9.9%, while Nordstrom declined 5%. Gap slumped 3.2%.

Meanwhile, discount retailer TJX rose 2.2% after its earnings report showed a strong rise in sales.

Traders also had an eye on Washington.

Even though the main focus in the capital was the ongoing impeachment hearings, traders said they were also concerned about a bill in the Senate in support of Hong Kong protestors, and how it might affect the ongoing negotiations over a U.S.-China trade deal. The bill, if passed, would allow for sanctions against anyone found violating Hong Kong's autonomy.

A vote on the bill, which has been put on an expedited schedule, could happen as soon as Tuesday.

"Some feel traders are concerned that a Senate vote on Hong Kong could blow up chance of trade deal," said Art Cashin, who runs UBS's floor operations at the NYSE.

Globally, stocks edged higher as investors grew less apprehensive about the economic outlook. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index ended the day up almost 1.6%, while the Shanghai Composite gauge advanced 0.9%.

Meanwhile, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.1%.

"Markets were thinking a recession was imminent at the end of August, now people are discovering that it is less bad than that," said Florian Ielpo, head of macroeconomic research at asset-management firm Unigestion. "Pessimism is starting to fade."

The ICE dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, dropped sharply immediately after President Trump said he met with Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell at the White House Monday and "protested" about U.S. interest rates being too high. The gauge pared back most of those losses in the hours since.

Mr. Trump, who has been vocal in his criticism of the central bank, tweeted that he discussed the state of the economy, trade issues, and the impact of a "too strong" dollar with the central bank chief. The Fed said Mr. Powell reiterated that he hoped interest-rate cuts earlier this year would bolster the economy.

The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasurys slipped to 1.783%, from 1.808% on Monday. In commodities, U.S. crude futures fell 2.5% on concerns about excess oil supplies.

Write to Anna Isaac at anna.isaac@wsj.com and Paul Vigna at paul.vigna@wsj.com

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
CHINA-SHANGHAI COMP 0.43% 2912.01 End-of-day quote.16.58%
DJ INDUSTRIAL -0.19% 27957.35 Delayed Quote.20.09%
HANG SENG 0.08% 26507.33 Real-time Quote.2.48%
HUDSON'S BAY COMPANY 0.22% 9.15 Delayed Quote.25.24%
NASDAQ 100 -0.01% 8394.506808 Delayed Quote.32.66%
NASDAQ COMP. -0.03% 8653.135441 Delayed Quote.30.46%
NORDSTROM, INC 3.91% 38.99 Delayed Quote.-19.42%
S&P 500 -0.04% 3144.19 Delayed Quote.25.49%
US DOLLAR INDEX 0.30% 97.7 End-of-day quote.1.05%
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