Trump impeachment drama weighs on stocks

Release of whistle-blower complaint at centre of impeachment inquiry against Trump pulls focus from US-China trade war.

    The US-China trade war has dominated investor sentiment this year as concerns mount over slowing global economic growth [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]
    The US-China trade war has dominated investor sentiment this year as concerns mount over slowing global economic growth [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

    Fresh developments in an inquiry into the impeachment of United States President Donald Trump started weighing on investor sentiment on Thursday, eclipsing positive news on the US-China trade front.

    In midday trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 127.41 points or 0.47 percent. The broader S&P 500 index shed 17.78 points or 0.60 percent, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq was down 75.99 points or 0.94 percent.

    Stocks opened lower on Thursday after the US House Intelligence Committee released a declassified version of a whistle-blower complaint alleging that Trump used his office to solicit interference in the 2020 presidential election from a foreign country.

    The report, which is seen as central to the impeachment inquiry, drew investor focus from positive news on talks aimed at resolving ongoing trade tensions between the US and China.

    Beijing said earlier on Thursday it was in close communication with the US and was preparing to make progress with their trade talks in October.

    The trade war has dominated investor sentiment this year as concerns mount over slowing global economic growth.

    "We need something like a trade deal to get through. Without that we are just going to bounce around here where if you get some bad political news, it sells off," said Kim Forrest, chief investment officer at Bokeh Capital Partners in Pittsburgh.

    Also making headlines on Thursday, shares of Facebook Inc were under pressure after a person familiar with the matter told Reuters news agency that the US Department of Justice will open an antitrust investigation of the social media company.

    The steady dividend-paying sectors - consumer staples, utilities and real estate - were leading gains among the 11 major S&P sectors.

    The three, widely regarded as defensive plays, are also the best performing S&P sectors this quarter.