Equities drop as geopolitical tensions rise in view of Turkey downing Russian fighter

November 24, 2015 10:57 AM

U.S. shares fell on Tuesday as investors turned to less-risky assets after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane, even as GDP data indicated healthier economic growth.

Global security concerns intensified after Turkey said it shot down a Russian warplane that had violated its airspace near the Syrian border, and after the U.S. State Department issued a global travel alert for Americans.

Crude oil prices were up about 2% on the prospect of more turmoil in the Middle East. Gold also rose.

"This has really gotten investors' attention," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank in Chicago. "Investors are worried that tensions could escalate."

Shares of travel website operators Priceline and TripAdvisor were down about 2% in early trading, while cruise operators Carnival Corp and Royal Caribbean were down about 3%.

Airline stocks were also down, with United Continental falling 2.9%, American Airlines 2.5% and Delta Air Lines 2.8%.

At 9:37 a.m. ET (1437 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 81.27 points, or 0.46%, at 17,711.41, the S&P 500 was down 8.86 points, or 0.42%, at 2,077.73 and the Nasdaq Composite index was down 19.95 points, or 0.39%, at 5,082.53.

Nine of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by the consumer discretionary sector's 0.70% decline. Amazon and Disney were the biggest drags.

The energy sector was the only bright spot, rising 1.2%. Exxon and Chevron were both up about 0.5%.

The U.S. Commerce Department revised third-quarter GDP growth to an annual rate of 2.1%, in line with market expectations but up from 1.5% estimated previously.

The data could give the Federal Reserve confidence to raise interest rates at its December meeting.

Investors are also awaiting U.S. consumer confidence data from the Conference Board due at 10.00 a.m. (1500 GMT). Sentiment is expected to have improved slightly in November.

Tiffany was down 2.2% at $78.28 after it said it expected net earnings for the year to be 5 to 10% lower than last year.

Campbell Soup was up 5.2% at $52.32 after the world's biggest soup maker reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit and raised its full-year profit forecast.

Xerox was up 2.3% at $11 after Carl Icahn disclosed a 7.13% stake.

Hewlett-Packard will release its last quarterly results as a single company after the close.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,701 to 909. On the Nasdaq, 1,440 issues fell and 726 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed five new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 13 new highs and 27 new lows.

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Abhiram Nandakumar, Reuters