US Markets

Stocks close lower amid Trump policy concerns; financials dive 2%

Opening Bell, January 17, 2017
Opening Bell, January 17, 2017

U.S. equities fell on Tuesday, with financials lagging, as uncertainty around President-elect Donald Trump's policies grew.

"I't not about proposals anymore ... but what are they going to do," said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management. "I think investors are at a pause trying to figure out what's next." He also said he is positive about U.S. equities, noting underlying global economic growth has been overlooked.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed about 60 points lower after briefly falling 100 points, with Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase contributing the most losses. The S&P 500 fell 0.3 percent, with financials dropping more than 2 percent.

"The [S&P 500] remains bound by a consolidation phase that reflects an indecisive market as we approach the inauguration," said Katie Stockton, chief technical strategist at BTIG, in a note. "We believe the risk is greater to the downside in the near term, and would be wary of a breach of the lower boundary of the range near 2250."

The Nasdaq composite declined 0.6 percent, while the small-caps Russell 2000 dropped 1.44 percent.

"You don't know what's going to happen. So it's hard to reposition into this or that," said Jeff Layman, partner at BKD Wealth Advisors.

Trump criticized a proposed corporate tax plan from the House of Representatives, labeling the plan as "too complicated," in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.

The stock market has soared since the election partially on hopes of corporate tax reform, deregulation of certain sectors and more government spending. Trump's inauguration is scheduled for Friday.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on January 5, 2017, in New York City.
Getty Images

"There's a lot of nervousness as Trump gets set to take office," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial. "Until we see what he does in his first 100 days, I think the market is going to remain in a wait-and-see pattern."

Trump's remarks also took a bite out of the dollar, which fell 0.82 percent against a basket of currencies. In turn, the euro rose 0.87 percent to $1.0706 and the gained 1.14 percent to 112.64.

Adding pressure to U.S. stocks were concerns of a hard Brexit. In a speech Tuesday, British Prime Minister Theresa May indicated the United Kingdom would seek a clean break from the European Union. She added, however, The U.K. government will put the Brexit deal it agrees with the European Union to a parliamentary vote.

Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets, said May's speech was expected to be "catastrophic." "But, she has managed the expectations and delivered the speech very well. Moreover, the final Brexit deal will be put up for a vote in parliament and this makes things a little less pessimistic," he said.

The British pound skyrocketed more than 2.5 percent against the dollar, trading around $1.24, on track for its best day since 2008. The pound briefly broke below $1.20 earlier this week.

"The fact that the pound briefly broke below $1.20 and then rebounded shows you that the bears aren't ready to take the pound in that direction," said Adam Sarhan, CEO at 50 Park Investments. The pound has fallen sharply since last June's Brexit vote.

Pound/dollar 1-year chart

Source: FactSet

The pan-European Stoxx 600 index rebounded after May's speech, falling about 0.15 percent, paring losses.

There are no major U.S. economic data due Tuesday, but a slew of firms reported quarterly results, including Morgan Stanley, which beat analyst expectations on both the top and bottom line. Morgan Stanley shares fell 3.8 percent, however.

Major U.S. Indexes

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 58.96 points, or 0.3 percent, to close at 19,826.77, with JPMorgan Chase leading decliners and Wal-Mart the top advancer.

The dropped 6.75 points, or 0.3 percent, to 2,267.89, with financials leading five sectors lower and consumer staples outperforming.

The Nasdaq composite slipped 35.39 points, or 0.63 percent to 5,538.73.

Decliners were a step ahead of advancers at the New York Stock Exchange, with an exchange volume of 887.16 million and a composite volume of 3.53 billion at the close.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), widely considered the best gauge of fear in the market, traded near 11.8.

—CNBC's Silvia Amaro contributed to this report.

On tap this week:


Earnings: CSX, Interactive Brokers

6:00 p.m. San Francisco Fed President John Williams


Earnings: Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, US Bancorp, Canadian Pacific Railway, Charles Schwab, Northern Trust, TD Ameritrade, Netflix, Commerce Bancshares, Fastenal

8:30 a.m. CPI

8:30 a.m. Business leaders survey

9:15 a.m. Industrial production

10:00 a.m. NAHB

11:00 a.m. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari

2:00 p.m. Beige book

3:00 p.m. Fed Chair Janet Yellen speaks to Commonwealth Club of San Francisco

4:00 p.m. TIC data


Earnings: Union Pacific, Bank of NY Mellon, American Express, IBM, Skyworks Solution, Check Point Software, KeyCorp, People's United Financial

7:45 a.m. European Central Bank rate decision

8:30 a.m. Initial claims

8:30a .m. Housing starts

8:30 a.m. Philad