(Bloomberg) — U.S. stocks sank, tracking a global selloff in equities, as investors sought havens on concern that Russia’s military presence in Ukraine could lead to a larger conflict.
General Electric Co. and 3M Co. each plunged 1.8 percent to pace declines among large industrial shares. Financial shares tumbled, as Visa Inc. and American Express Co. slid at least 1.9 percent. The Market Vectors Russia ETF tracking companies from Gazprom OAO to OAO Lukoil dropped 8.5 percent. Yandex NV, a U.S.-listed online search engine operating in Russia, slumped 14 percent. Newmont Mining Corp., the largest U.S. gold producer, jumped 2.7 percent.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 1.1 percent, the most in a month, to 1,829.06 at 11:47 a.m. in New York. The gauge closed at a record on Feb. 28. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 203.22 points, or 1.3 percent, to 16,118.49. Trading in S&P 500 stocks was 4.1 percent below the 30-day average at this time of day.
“Global markets typically sell off on news of an escalated geopolitical crisis like we’re seeing in Ukraine; how deep it goes depends on the effectiveness of diplomacy,” Frederic Dickson, chief investment strategist who helps oversee $44.5 billion at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Lake Oswego, Oregon, said in a telephone interview. “We’re in a camp that this is not a black swan event that will mark the end of the five year bull market for stocks in the U.S. and globally, but a modest correction event.”
The tensions sent stocks tumbling around the world, with the MSCI All-Country World Index sliding 1.4 percent. Russian stocks had their biggest decline in five years and the Europe Stoxx 600 plunged 2.3 percent, its biggest slide in five weeks. Emerging-market stocks dropped 1.7 percent. Gold soared 2.4 percent and Treasuries rallied.
Meanwhile, Ukraine warned that Vladimir Putin’s military is strengthening its presence in Crimea amid the worst standoff between the West and Russia since the Cold War ended.
“The Ukraine news is troubling, but there are always global risks and short-term fluctuations because of these risks,” Karyn Cavanaugh, a market strategist at ING U.S.Investment Management in New York, said in a phone interview. Her firm oversees about $200 billion. “I see this being short-term unless it escalates. If we do see some market gyrations and volatility, it could be a buying opportunity.
The geopolitical tension comes after the S&P 500 rose 4.3 percent in February, the most since October, to end the month at a record 1,859.45. Investors have been speculating that recent weakness in data from housing to jobs was caused by inclement weather and that the Federal Reserve will continue to support the economy.
U.S. equities are set to enter the sixth year of a bull market that started March 9, 2009. Three rounds of stimulus have helped push the S&P 500 up 175 percent from a 12-year low.
Investor concerns on emerging markets sent the S&P 500 plunging 5.8 percent from Jan. 15 to Feb 3, amid signs that growth was slowing in China and a rout of emerging-market currencies as the Fed began to reduce stimulus. Reports today showed two gauges of Chinese manufacturing in February signaled slower growth.