US stocks fall on uncertainty on Syria, Trump agenda

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York on Tuesday, April 11, 2017. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks finished firmly lower on Wednesday (April 12) amid continued worries about Syria and doubts over the prospects for President Donald Trump's economic agenda.

Analysts described rising anxiety over geopolitical issues, as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Russia President Vladimir Putin but made little apparent progress towards a joint strategy on Syria following last week's US missile strikes on the war-torn country.

Investors also are perturbed at the lack of progress on Trump's economic agenda, especially promised tax cuts that had garnered great investor enthusiasm.

"I think the rally in stocks has run into some headwinds, certainly geopolitical concerns, Syria, Russia and so forth," said Alan Skrainka, chief investment officer at Cornerstone Wealth Management.

"But mostly it's concerns about the Trump administration ability to get a tax plan passed." The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.3 percent to close the session at 20,591.86.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.4 per cent to end at 2,344.93, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 0.5 per cent to 5,836.16.

Industrial shares were under pressure, with Caterpillar losing 2.3 per cent, Boeing falling 1.4 per cent and United Technologies down 0.8 per cent.

United Airlines lost 1.1 per cent as chief executive Oscar Munoz apologised again after the airline forcibly removed a passenger on an overbooked flight Sunday. But Munoz said he had no plans to step down.

Tesla Motors slumped 3.9 per cent following news that a group of investors are lobbying the company to add new, independent members to the board to offset the influence of chief executive and co-founder Elon Musk.

BlackBerry Limited surged 16 per cent as it announced it won US$814.9 million in an arbitration ruling from Qualcomm on royalty overpayments. Qualcomm shed 3.5 per cent.