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U.S. stocks tumbled in afternoon trading after Wall Street was spooked by word of an increase in Russian troops at the Ukraine border.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 139.81 points, or 0.8%, to 16429, the S&P 500 dropped 18.78 points, or 1%, to 1920, and the Nasdaq Composite slipped 31.05 points, or 0.7%, to 4352.
Wall Street was seeing modest losses earlier in the session. The selloff quickly accelerated after a Polish official was quoted as saying Russian troops are amassing near Ukraine and prepared for a possible invasion.
The Pentagon declined to comment on the “exact readiness posture” of Russian troops but confirmed that Russia has “highly ready forces” relatively close to the border, according to spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby.
Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said a continued decline in crude oil suggests the stock market overreacted to
“While we have to discount what that official said, the weakness in stocks is evident of a technically vulnerable market where moving averages in a variety of indices are being breached,” Boockvar said.
Rhino Trading Partners chief strategist Michael Block called market worries of a Russian invasion “a crock.”
“This is just a wave of selling looking for an excuse,” he said.
Geopolitical turmoil overshadowed two economic reports that beat expectations. The ISM non-manufacturing purchasing managers index climbed to 58.7 in July, up from 56.0 a month earlier and above the consensus estimate of 56.5. Meanwhile, factory orders were up 1.1% in June, surpassing projections of a 0.5% increase.
On the corporate front, Target (TGT) continues to reel from last year’s massive data breach. The retailer slashed its guidance for the second quarter, citing higher costs tied to the cyber-attack. Shares were down 4.7%.
Gannett (GCI) announced plans to spin off its publishing unit. Gannett will split into two publicly traded companies, one of which will focus on digital content and television. The USA Today parent also announced a deal to acquire full ownership of Cars.com for $1.8 billion in cash.
In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil settled 91 cents lower at $97.38 a barrel, the lowest level for U.S. oil futures since Feb. 5. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline slipped 80 cents, or 0.3%, to $2.71 a gallon.
FOX Business reporter Adam Samson contributed to this report.