U.S. stocks reversed course on Wednesday, falling on renewed uncertainty regarding the U.S. stance on Chinese investments in American technology companies.
Earlier in the session, U.S. stocks rose as President Donald Trump said he will use a strengthened national security review panel — the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) — to deal with potential threats from Chinese acquisitions of U.S. technology, instead of imposing China-specific restrictions.
The decision was seen by investors as a somewhat softer approach than reported earlier plans to block firms with at least 25 percent Chinese ownership from buying U.S. tech firms.
But U.S. stocks moved lower after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow later said in an interview on Fox Business Network that Trump's announced plan did not indicate a softened stance on China.
The S&P 500 technology sector <.SPLRCT> fell 1.0 percent, weighing the most on the broader S&P 500 index. Chipmakers, which derive much of their revenue from China, fell even lower. The Philadelphia semiconductor index <.SOX> slid 2.0 percent.
"Investors are back in concern mode," said Kate Warne, investment strategist at Edward Jones in St. Louis. "We had clarity this morning, but now that's been removed."
The Dow Jones Industrial Average <.DJI> fell 107.13 points, or 0.44 percent, to 24,175.98, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 16.27 points, or 0.60 percent, to 2,706.79 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 89.88 points, or 1.19 percent, to 7,471.74.
The S&P energy index <.SPNY> was up 1.2 percent, leading the gainers among the 11 major sectors, lifted by a jump in U.S. crude prices as plunging stockpiles compounded supply concerns. [O/R]
Though higher oil prices have boosted the energy sector of late, some investors raised concern that they may have a negative effect on other sectors.
"The historical concern is that as energy creeps higher, it saps demand from other parts of the economy," said Douglas Burtnick, senior investment manager at Aberdeen Standard Investments in Philadelphia.
Conagra Brands Inc <CAG.N> dropped 6.7 percent after the company said it would buy Pinnacle Foods Inc <PF.N> for about $8.1 billion in cash and stock. Pinnacle Foods fell 4.0 percent after the deal announcement.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.28-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.66-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 12 new 52-week highs and 16 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 52 new highs and 71 new lows.