NEW YORK: After surging over four days to near pre-recession highs, stocks slipped Monday following a new sign of a slowdown in the U.S. economy and worries over Europe’s struggle to keep its currency union intact.
All three major indexes were down, though barely. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 40.27 points, or 0.3 percent, to 13,553.10.
U.S. stocks are coming off a surge last week that sent the S&P 500 to its highest level in nearly five years. Investors bought stocks on news that the Federal Reserve planned to buy mortgage bonds in an effort to get people to borrow and spend more.
Dampening investor spirits was an Empire State Manufacturing Survey suggesting that conditions for New York manufacturers continued to weaken in September. That followed news from the Fed on Friday that U.S. industrial production fell in August by the largest amount in more than three years.
“We’re not completely out of the woods economically, and that’s weighing on markets,” said Wasif Latif, vice president of equity investments at USAA Investments.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 4.58 to 1,461.19. The Nasdaq composite lost 5.28 to 3,178.67.
Six of the ten major industry sectors in the S&P 500 fell, led by materials stocks, down 1.5 percent. Energy stocks lost 0.8 percent, climbing back from steeper losses in the afternoon following a plunge in oil that left traders guessing as to the cause. Benchmark crude fell to $96.62, a loss of $2.38, or 2.4 percent, the biggest fall since late July.
In Europe, benchmark indexes fell 0.8 percent in France and 0.9 percent in Italy.
Investors in Europe sold partly on signs that setting up a new authority overseeing European banks could take longer than expected following a disappointing meeting of the region’s financial ministers over the weekend. The new authority would be able to bail out banks directly. Investors are worried that collapsing banks in the region could spread panic, leading to a breakup of the monetary union.