Stocks Sell Off as Financials, Retailers Dive

By MarketsFOXBusiness

FOX Business: Capitalism Lives Here

A strong selloff in the financial and consumer discretionary sectors drove U.S. stock markets sharply lower on Tuesday.

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Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 130 points, or 0.78%, to 16401, the S&P 500 slumped 16.9 points, or 0.9%, to 1868 and the Nasdaq Composite fell 57.3 points, or 1.4%, to 4081.

After a quiet start, Wall Street headed south in afternoon trading. The financial and consumer discretionary sectors were the worst performers. In a somewhat unusual move, the energy sector, which usually falls with cyclical stocks, was actually one of two advancers. Utilities, which are seen as a safe haven because of their dividend yields, also climbed.

The pace of mergers and acquisitions in the health-care space continues heating up. Merck (NYSE:MRK) said it will sell its consumer care unit to German Bayer for $14.2 billion. This comes as Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) is pursuing a $106 billion buyout of AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) and Valeant (NYSE:VRX) is attempting to buy botox-maker Allergan (NYSE:AGN).

Elsewhere in corporate news, insurance giant American International Group (NYSE:AIG) saw its shares slump after posting a 27% drop in first-quarter profits. Twitter (NASDAQ:TWTR) shares plunged to new lows as the lock-up expires in the micro-blogging site's stock.

On the economic front, traders will get a look at U.S. international trade at 8:30 a.m. ET. The trade deficit is forecast to have narrowed to $40.3 billion in March from $42.3 billion the month prior. While the data are a lagging indictor, they figure directly into broader economic calculations.

U.S. crude oil futures rose by a penny, or 0.01%, to $99.49 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline advanced 0.2% to $2.916 a gallon. Gold slipped $1.20, or 0.1%, to $1,308 a troy ounce.

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