By Susan Mathew and Devik Jain
(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes slipped on Tuesday as shares of Home Depot slumped after earnings, while the prospect of harsh Western sanctions against Russia over its conflict with Ukraine kept investors on edge.
Seven out of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower, with consumer discretionary stocks leading the way with a 1.6% decline.
Home Depot Inc fell 6.8% after the home improvement chain reported a decline in gross profit margins for the holiday quarter due to a jump in transportation and labor costs. Its stock was the biggest drag on the Dow.
Global stocks took a beating after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine and ordered troops to those regions, inviting fresh Western sanctions.
Germany halted the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project designed to bring Russian gas to the country and Britain slapped sanctions on five Russian banks and three men close to Putin.
The European commission and the United States were set to announce more sanctions later in the day.
“The fear factor remains elevated and until we get some sort of a clearer picture of what Putin may or may not do, the market is just going to stay in a state of confusion and volatile,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities.
“With the price of oil surging, the other question is how is the (Federal Reserve) going to deal with this?” Cardillo said.
The energy sector inched 0.2% higher after oil surged to a near seven-year high as a potential conflict with Russia could tighten supplies. [O/R]
Shares of most big banks rose, with Morgan Stanley gaining about 1.0%. [US/]
U.S. business activity regained speed in February, data from IHS Markit showed, but higher prices for inputs remained a burden. Another set showed U.S. consumer confidence fell for a second straight month in February.
At 10:51 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 270.05 points, or 0.78%, at 33,809.13, the S&P 500 was down 16.85 points, or 0.39%, at 4,332.02, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 46.13 points, or 0.34%, at 13,501.94.
The CBOE volatility index, also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, was last up 29.40, well above its long-term average of 20.
Retailer Macy’s Inc jumped 7.3% after topping expectations for comparable sales in the crucial holiday quarter.
SoFi Technologies Inc slipped 3.3% after the fintech company agreed to buy digital banking platform Technisys in $1.1 billion deal.
Digital World Acquisition Corp, the blank-check company behind former U.S. President Donald Trump’s new social media venture, Truth Social, surged 9.7% as the app climbed the charts after its debut on Apple’s App Store.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.49-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.25-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 7 new 52-week highs and 27 new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 18 new highs and 425 new lows.
(Reporting by Susan Mathew and Devik Jain in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)