US stocks tumble on weak manufacturing data

Traders work at the New York Stock Exchange on Sept 27, 2019.
Traders work at the New York Stock Exchange on Sept 27, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks tumbled on Tuesday (Oct 1) as a dismal report on manufacturing exacerbated fears that the slowing US economy could tip into recession.

Stocks had opened the session higher but fell sharply after the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) rated US manufacturing activity at its weakest level since the Great Recession.

The ISM report was a "game changer," said LBBW's Karl Haeling.

"There's a growing recognition that the spread of negative economic impulses around the world is starting to land on US shores in a meaningful way."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 1.3 per cent at 26,573.04.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 1.2 per cent to 2,940.25, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 1.1 per cent to 7,908.68.

The ISM's index fell 1.3 points to 47.8 per cent in September, the lowest since June 2009 and well below the 50 rating that separates growth from contraction.

The institute pointed to trade conflicts as the biggest factor.

"Global trade remains the most significant issue, as demonstrated by the contraction in new export orders that began in July 2019," Timothy Fiore, chair of ISM's manufacturing survey, said in a statement.

"Overall, sentiment this month remains cautious regarding near-term growth."

Analysts have pointed to upcoming trade talks between Beijing and Washington as critical to the market's fortunes in the coming period.

Other key potential catalysts include the third-quarter corporate earnings period and upcoming Federal Reserve meetings that could lead to lower interest rates.

Among individual companies, General Motors dropped 3.7 per cent as a United Auto Workers strike further pinched operations.

The company announced it will furlough 6,000 workers in Mexico due to the strike, while JPMorgan Chase estimated the strike has cost the company around US$1 billion (US$1.3 billion) so far.

McDonald's fell 2.6 per cent following a downcast note from JPMorgan, which said the company's sales are trending below expectations.

Shares of online brokerage firms plunged after Charles Schwab announced plans to eliminate commissions for many trades. Schwab fell nearly 10 per cent, while Etrade sank 16.4 per cent and TD Ameritrade nosedived 25.8 per cent.