NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished a volatile session mostly lower on Thursday (May 3) amid investor worries over interest rates and trade, and as Tesla shares plummeted following a public meltdown by chief Elon Musk.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished up a hair at 25,930.15, recovering after sinking 1.6 per cent at a session low.
The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 0.2 per cent to end the day at 2,629.73, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.2 per cent to 7,088.15.
Analysts have described investor sentiment as broadly bearish as a strong earnings season winds down, with solid results from Amazon, Apple and others having failed to ignite a market rally.
"It is a little perplexing that the market is reacting the way," said William Lynch, director of investment at Hinsdale Associates. "Earnings have been fantastic."
Analysts say markets are uneasy over trade policy, with investors looking to meetings in Beijing led involving Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others.
Political turmoil in Washington involving President Donald Trump is another source of unease, along with worries about the Federal Reserve's ongoing drive to hike interest rates.
Fed concerns are expected to be in focus again Friday when the Labor Department releases April jobs data.
Among individual companies, Tesla Motors sank 5.6 per cent after founder and chief Musk responded testily to analyst questions Wednesday about the need to raise capital and other financial matters, dismissing the queries as "boring" and "not cool" and refusing to answer.
He also said investors should not buy Tesla stock if they are afraid of volatility. "We have no interest in satisfying the desires of daytraders. I couldn't care less," Musk said.
JPMorgan Chase called Musk's behaviour as "truly bizarre" and expressed concern about the progress of the company's ambitious plans to escalate production on its Model 3 sedan.
"We are concerned whether the problematic launch of the Model 3 means the vehicle is simply delayed or whether it calls into question its ability to generate 25% gross (profit) margin," the note said.