Stocks on Wall Street were lower throughout the session as investors returned from the long weekend to news that tariffs on Chinese imports went into effect on September 1, as promised, and a report indicated that plans for face-to-face trade talks were in question. Meanwhile, a key manufacturing index dropped into contraction territory in August, adding fuel to concerns about the ongoing trade dispute between the world's top economic powers.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., Markit's manufacturing PMI slipped to 50.3 in the final August reading , down from 50.4 in July but improved from the 49.9 preliminary figure. The ISM manufacturing index dropped 2.1 points to a 3-year low of 49.1 in August, which was weaker than expected and indicates the index is in contraction territory. Construction spending rebounded 0.1% in July following a 0.7% decline in June.
In Asia, China's official manufacturing PMI for August reported over the weekend came in at 49.5, down from 49.7 in July. The Caixin manufacturing PMI for August was 50.4, which was a bit better than expected. The National Bureau of Statistics' non-manufacturing PMI came in at 53.8. Japan's final manufacturing PMI for August was 49.3, a downward revision versus the flash reading of 49.5.
On the trade front, Bloomberg reported that officials are having a difficult time coming up with a schedule for a planned meeting this month after the U.S. spurned a Chinese request to delay tariffs that took effect this weekend.
TOP NEWS: Shares of Boeing (BA) closed 2.7% lower after The Wall Street Journal reported tension between the plane maker and international air-safety authorities could delay the grounded 737 Max fleet from getting back into service. Reportedly, additional weeks of delay could significantly reduce the likelihood that the 737 Max is back in the air during the Christmas holidays.
Walmart (WMT) CEO Doug McMillon, in a memo to employees shared on the company's website, announced that the retailer will discontinue sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber that, while commonly used in some hunting rifles, can also be used in large capacity clips on military-style weapons; will sell through and discontinue handgun ammunition; and will discontinue handgun sales in Alaska, marking the company's "complete exit from handguns." The CEO, who said in his memo that "It's clear to us that the status quo is unacceptable," stated that he will be sending letters to the White House and the Congressional leadership that call for action on "common sense measures" that can help make the country safer.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the notable gainers was Conn's (CONN), which gained 18.3% after the company reported what Stifel analyst John Baugh called "good" Q2 results and "healthy" Q3 guidance.
Also higher was The Medicines Co. (MDCO), which rose 10.4% after announcing that inclisiran sodium 300 mg met all primary and secondary efficacy endpoints in the phase 3 ORION-11 clinical study.
Among the noteworthy losers was Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN), which continued lower with an additional loss of 5.5% following news on August 30 of the institution of Amgen's (AMGN) inter partes review challenges on three Soliris patents.
Also lower were shares of Concho Resources (CXO), which fell 5.1% after the company announced the sale of its assets in the New Mexico Shelf to an affiliate of privately held Spur Energy Partners for $925M
INDEXES: The Dow fell 285.26, or 1.08%, to 26,118.02, the Nasdaq lost 88.72, or 1.11%, to 7,874.16, and the S&P 500 declined 20.19, or 0.69%, to 2,906.27.