United States stocks end sharply lower on deepening economic fears

Dow drops 260 points after weakest manufacturing reading in 10 years

Wall Street's main indexes suffered their sharpest one-day declines in almost six weeks on Wednesday after United States employment and manufacturing data suggested that the trade war with China is taking an increasing toll on the economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost nearly 500 points Wednesday, its second big drop in a row. The industrial and materials sectors also fell more than 2% each, posting the biggest declines among the 11 major S&P sectors.

A day earlier, markets were shaken by the weakest reading on USA manufacturing growth in a decade.

The S&P 500 is up 380.76 points, or 15.2%.

Stocks got slammed for the second day in a row on Wednesday after weak payroll numbers stoked fears that President Trump's trade wars were slowing down the USA economy. Many investors believe that falling below such moving averages means the indexes are likely to fall further.

Mega-cap tech stocks were hit particularly hard as shares of Apple fell more than 2.6%, Google-parent Alphabet shed 2.3%, and Amazon slid 1.4%. The Dow gave up 494 points, or 1.9%, to 26,078. "In this environment where one day you have good data and the other you have weak data, we think the best way to play it is with high-quality companies with free cash flow growth, strong balance sheets and other moats".

That added to fears sparked on Tuesday when a report showed U.S. factory activity contracted to its lowest level in more than a decade.

"I think yesterday's USA manufacturing PMI report was a game changer", said Fawad Razaqzada, technical analyst at Forex.com, in emailed comments.

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WHAT LIES AHEAD: The weaker-than-expected report on private-sector hiring puts more emphasis on Friday's more comprehensive jobs report from the federal government.

The S&P 500 jumped Monday and will now enter the fourth quarter with its biggest year-to-date gain in more than two decades. Those fears increased bets that the Federal Reserve will cut rates this month.

As the final quarter of 2019 kicks off, investors will be focusing on a range of factors, beginning with the high-stakes Sino-US trade talks in early October, corporate earnings and the Fed's next policy meeting.

Activision Blizzard Inc dropped 3.1% after Bernstein downgraded the videogame maker's shares to "market perform".

Shares of larger rival Coca-Cola gained 0.1% high.

Johnson & Johnson rose 2.5% after the health care giant announced that it had it had reached an agreement worth more than $20 million with two OH counties over the opioids crisis.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.76-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.29-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

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