US stocks tumble to end the third quarter with a thud

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Sept 30, 2021 in New York City. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks endured another round of selling on Thursday (Sept 30), finishing the third quarter on a sour note amid worries over political uncertainty in Washington.

Congress managed to avert a government shutdown, with the House and Senate approving in a bipartisan fashion a stopgap Bill to fund the government several hours before the end of the fiscal year, when the government would have shut down without an agreement.

But yawning differences over raising the debt ceiling and President Joe Biden's sweeping infrastructure and social spending agenda remain unresolved.

"There are a lot of things that still need to be worked out," said Tom Cahill, a portfolio strategist at Ventura Wealth Management, who said the array of unknowns "is definitely weighing on the market."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.6 per cent to 33,843.33.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 1.2 per cent to 4,307.44, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.4 per cent to 14,448.58.

The S&P 500 mustered a 0.2 per cent gain for the quarter, but both the Dow and Nasdaq fell modestly.

The losses - which were not as steep as those suffered in Tuesday's rout of a session - followed data showing a rise in unemployment claims for the third straight week.

Among individual companies, Acceleron Pharma fell 1.8 per cent after it announced an agreement to be acquired by Merck for US$11.5 billion (S$15.6 billion).

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Shares of Acceleron had risen earlier in the week following reports of the likely deal. Merck was flat.

Bed Bath & Beyond plunged 22.2 per cent as the company reported disappointing quarterly results and cut its forecast, citing a "challenging environment" caused by the fast-spreading Delta variant of Covid-19.

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