NEW YORK — Worries about the worsening pandemic pushed Wall Street to tap the brakes Tuesday on its big November rally, which had vaulted stocks back to record heights.
Treasury yields also dipped after a report showed U.S. shoppers spent less at retailers last month than economists expected. The numbers underscore how the coronavirus pandemic is worsening and threatens to drag the economy lower, at least in the near term.
Stocks that stormed higher this month on hopes that a vaccine or two may get the global economy back to normal next year receded amid the worries.
The S&P 500 fell 17.38 points, or 0.5%, from its record to close at 3,609.53. It was the first loss for the index in three days.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average also fell from a record, down 167.09, or 0.6%, to 29,783.35. The Nasdaq composite slipped 24.79, or 0.2%, to 11,899.34.
“Today is a good example of how the markets have been pricing in a lot of the good news,” said David Trainer, CEO of investment research firm New Constructs.
Stocks in the pharmacy business were among the biggest drags on the market after Amazon targeted them as the latest industry it’s trying to upend. The retailing behemoth opened an online pharmacy Tuesday that allows customers to have prescriptions delivered to their door in a couple days.
CVS Health fell 8.6%, Walgreens Boots Alliance dropped 9.6% and Rite-Aid lost 16.3%. Amazon, meanwhile, ticked up 0.1%.
On the winning side was Tesla, which rose 8.2% following an announcement that it will join the S&P 500 index next month.
Boston Scientific dropped 7.9% for one of the largest losses in the index after it issued a voluntary recall for its LOTUS Edge aortic valve system. Analysts said problems with its delivery system essentially mean an end to what was once a promising business.
Sales at U.S. retailers rose 0.3% last month, a sharp slowdown from September’s 1.6% growth. The figure also fell short of economists’ expectations for 0.5% growth.
Part of the shortfall is likely because laid-off workers are no longer getting extra unemployment benefits from the U.S. government following the expiration of several financial-support programs from Congress. Democrats and Republicans in Washington have talked about renewing some of the programs, but progress has been painfully slow amid deep partisanship in Washington.