U.S. stocks closed slightly lower Wednesday, making up much of the ground they lost earlier following a rare batch of earnings disappointments by Walt Disney and other big companies.
Consumer-focused stocks, media companies and banks accounted for much of the market decline. They outweighed gains in health care stocks and elsewhere. Small-company stocks fell more than the rest of the market.
Investors’ unease over escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea had weighed on stocks earlier in the day, pushing gold and bond prices slightly higher. But by the end of the day, traders appeared to take the geopolitical drama in stride.
“Right now the market is viewing it as a lot of saber-rattling and a lot of smoke, but not much fire,” said Darrell Cronk, president of Wells Fargo Investment Institute.
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The Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 0.90 points, or 0.04 percent, to 2,474.02. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 36.64 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,048.70. Earlier, the average had been down more than 88 points.
The Nasdaq composite lost 18.13 points, or 0.3 percent, to 6,352.33. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks gave up 13.20 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,396.95. That’s the index’s lowest level in two months.
The stage was set for the U.S. indexes to go lower early Wednesday as investors around the world reacted to the rising war of words between the U.S. and North Korea, pushing global market indexes lower.
On Tuesday, President Donald Trump warned North Korea of “fire and fury” in response to recent threats from Pyongyang, which said it was examining plans for attacking Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific with a military base. Trump’s comments followed reports that the North has mastered a technology needed to strike the United States with a nuclear missile.
Investors reacted by driving up the price of gold and bonds, traditional safe-haven plays. But the moves were modest.
Gold added $16.70, or 1.3 percent, to settle at $1,279.30 an ounce.
Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note slipped to 2.25 percent from 2.26 percent late Tuesday.
While the tough talk about the potential for war is scary, investors have heard it many times before.
“North Korea was fodder for the overnight trade, and as we headed into today we haven’t seen any more saber-rattling,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market…