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US: Stocks retreat amid geopolitical, economic concerns


[NEW YORK] Wall Street stocks lost ground again Tuesday to finish the session modestly lower amid mixed earnings, mounting geopolitical unease over Saudi Arabia, and Italy's budget standoff with the European Union.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished at 25,191.43, a loss of 0.5 per cent, but that was more than 400 points above the worst point of the session.

The broader S&P 500 dropped 0.6 per cent to end at 2,740.69, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index dipped 0.4 per cent to 7,437.54.

US stocks have been under pressure much of October amid worries over higher US interest rates, slowing corporate earnings growth and uncertainty surrounding Saudi Arabia and other international hotspots.

Those anxieties were compounded after investors reacted badly to earnings reports from Caterpillar and 3M, two industrial giants that are Dow components and considered vulnerable to a global economic slowdown and the US-China trade clash.

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But Tuesday's session also showed that investors were still willing to step in if they sense a bargain.

"It felt like a lot of it was overdone," Mike Mattioli, portfolio manager of Manulife Asset Management.

"Of course we're going to get a recession someday, but it doesn't look like we're going to get one very soon."

Caterpillar finished with a drop of 7.5 per cent despite reporting a 63 per cent jump in third-quarter profits to US$1.7 billion. But while the results topped expectations, analysts were disappointed the company did not raise its full-year forecast.

3M shed 4.4 per cent after trimming its full-year earnings forecast, in part due to the impact of the strong dollar.

Fellow Dow components McDonald's and Verizon jumped 6.3 per cent and 4.1 per cent, respectively, following their earnings releases.

Tesla Motors surged 12.7 per cent after Citron Research reversed course and endorsed the electric car maker after years of betting shares would falter, a stunning and enthusiastic vindication of the firm's embattled founder.

"While the media has been focused on Elon Musk's eccentric, outlandish and at times offensive behavior, it has failed to notice the legitimate disruption of the auto industry that is currently being dominated by Tesla," Citron said in a glowing research report.


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