Stocks headed lower Wednesday on reports that Walmart was cutting product orders because of sluggish sales. Walmart shares fell, taking other blue chips down with them.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) lost 61 points, or 0.4 percent, to 15,273, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) slipped 4 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,692 and the Nasdaq composite index (^IXIC) edged down 4 points, or 0.1 percent, to 3,761.
Bloomberg News reported Walmart (WMT) was looking to order fewer products from its suppliers in the third and fourth quarters of this year. It's the latest sign that sales have been slow at the nation's largest retailer, following the company cutting its full-year sales forecast last month.
A Walmart spokesman called the report "completely false." Shares of Walmart fell $1.09, or 1.4 percent, to $74.66, sending the overall market lower.
In Washington, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) delivered a marathon diatribe of nearly 22 hours against President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, which delayed Senate consideration of a stopgap budget measure needed to fund government agencies until November.
Adding to the drama, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew warned Congress that the United States would exhaust its borrowing capacity by Oct. 17.
%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%In economic news, data showed orders for long-lasting manufactured goods barely grew in August, in a possible sign that companies are holding back on investments due to uncertainty over government spending. A separate report showed sales of new single-family homes rose in August but held near their lowest levels this year, as a sharp rise in interest rates weighed on the U.S. economy.
In commodities news, U.S. benchmark crude fell 47 cents to end the day at $102.66 a barrel, it's lowest point since early July, while gold rose $19.90 to $1,336.20.
In corporate news, JPMorgan (JPM) appears to be closer to settling claims involving the sale of mortgage-backed securities that were instrumental in the 2008 financial crisis. Citing an official familiar with ongoing negotiation with federal and state officials, the Associated Press reports that a national settlement for $7 billion in cash and $4 billion in consumer relief is under discussion. The Justice Department is taking the lead, though the settlement would include states with claims against the bank, the unnamed official said. Investors were unfazed by the news, and JPMorgan shares rose 2.7 percent to $51.70.
American Express (AXP) expects to sell half of its business-travel division by creating a joint venture with a group led by Certares International Bank. American Express said it is talking to investors who would inject $700 million to $1 billion into the joint venture, which would keep the American Express Global Business Travel name. Shares of American Express fell along with the rest of the market, losing 0.1 to $75.98.
More Stocks in the News:
Facebook (FB) shares rose 2.1 percent to $49.45, brushing against $50 after a slew of brokerage upgrades.
Medical device maker Stryker will buy smaller Mako Surgical for about $1.65 billion to gain access to Mako's technology for robot-assisted orthopedic surgery. Mako (MAKO) shares surged 82.2 percent to $29.46 while Stryker (SYK) shares fell 2 percent to $68.80.
Carnival (CCL) shares fell 1.9 percent to $32.69 after the company warned it could report an adjusted loss for the current quarter and several brokerage downgraded the stock.
J.C. Penney (JCP) shares traded at their lowest level in nearly 13 years, as the department stores operator is facing a rough road ahead to turn around its business. The stock fell 15 percent to $10.12 in trading Wednesday, but dropped as low as $9.93 earlier in the session, a level it last traded at in the fall of 2000.
Ascena Retail Group (ASNA) shares jumped 15.8 percent to $20.06. The parent company of Lane Bryant, Dressbarn and Maurices, reported results that were significantly better than financial analysts expected in its most recent quarter.
What to Watch Thursday
At 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, the Commerce Department reports second-quarter gross domestic product and the Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims.
At 10 a.m., Freddie Mac reports weekly mortgage rates and the National Association of Realtors releases its pending home sales index for August.
Athletic wear maker Nike (NKE) reports quarterly corporate earnings.
-Compiled from staff and wire reports.