Stocks snapped a four-session winning streak on Wednesday as U.S.-China trade tensions retook center stage and as crude oil prices tumbled, weighing on energy shares. The S&P 500 dropped 0.7% to 2774, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.9% to 24700, and the Nasdaq Composite slid 0.6% to 7717.
Meanwhile, in Brussels, a two-day NATO summit got off to a contentious start after President Trump criticized Germany for approving a major gas deal with Russia. NATO leaders later recommitted to a military spending target of 2% of GDP by 2024 at the urging of Mr. Trump, who was pushing for doubling the target to 4%.
Back on the home front, energy stocks tumbled as crude prices retreated from a three-and-a-half year high. Several factors contributed to the crude sell off, including a muted/negative response to a bullish inventory report, which showed a huge drop of 12.6 million barrels -- the biggest weekly drop since September 2016. WTI crude futures tumbled 5.0% to $70.38 per barrel, and the S&P 500's energy sector declined by 2.2%, closing at the bottom of the sector standings.
The industrials (-1.6%) and materials (-1.7%) spaces, both of which are sensitive to trade issues, were the next-worst performing groups, while most other spaces lost no more than 0.8%. Out of 11 groups, the utilities space (+0.9%) was the only one to finish in the green, continuing to rebound from Monday's 3.1% drop.
Graph: Google Finance
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