US stocks, which rallied at the start of 2019, ended the third quarter on a much quieter note.
Stocks finished the last trading day of the quarter higher on Monday, but have been on a downward trend of late. The major indexes just recorded two down weeks in a row, and the Nasdaq Composite (COMP) ended the quarter in the red.
Chinese officials are expected in Washington in early October for the next round of trade talks, but investors are wary. Last week, markets were thrown for a loop after news reports that the White House was discussing whether to limit flows from Chinese investors into the United States.
Economic data wasn’t helpful either. In August, US manufacturing fell hard, recording the sector’s first decline in three years. Meanwhile, trade worries began to crop up in consumer sentiment surveys, which could be a red flag for the consumer spending that’s so important for US economic growth.
For the quarter, the Dow (INDU) rose a modest 1.2%, after climbing 2.6% in the prior quarter and 11% in the first three months of 2019.
Similar to the Dow, the S&P 500 (SPX) also gained 1.2% in the third quarter, after rising 3.8% in the prior three months and 13% at the start of the year.
The Nasdaq, which is heavy on technology stocks particularly sensitive to the global slowdown exacerbated by the trade war, slipped 0.1% between July and September, compared with a 3.6% increase in the second quarters and a 16.5% rally in the first three months of the year.
For all three indexes, which recorded record closing highs in July, the third quarter was the worst since late last year.