“There are two stories that play out in Washington these days and to a degree it does impact the market – can the President have any success with the overall Washington agenda, whether it is the debt ceiling or tax reform – so far it seems like that is not going to be simple,” said Phil Blancato, CEO of Ladenberg Thalmann Asset Management in New York.
“On the other side, there really is a necessity to see some tax reform to help the greater economy.”
Recent economic data painted a mixed picture. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose less than expected last week, while home resales unexpectedly fell in July to their lowest monthly level of the year.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 28.69 points, or 0.13 percent, to 21,783.4, the S&P 500 lost 5.07 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,438.97 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 7.08 points, or 0.11 percent, to 6,271.33.
Oil prices slipped amid concerns over demand. U.S. Gulf Coast refineries shut operations as Hurricane Harvey was forecast to turn into a major hurricane.
Consumer staples, down 1.3 percent, were the worst performing of the 11 major S&P sectors, led lower by a 9.5 drop in J.M. Smucker after its posted disappointing results and lowered its earnings forecast.
The group also lost ground after Amazon.com Inc said it plans to complete its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods Market Inc on Monday after winning antitrust approval from U.S. regulators. The announcement weighed on grocery store stocks such as Kroger Co, off 8.10 percent, and Wal-Mart Stores Inc, down 2.03 percent.
Dollar Tree advanced 5.6 as one of the best performers on the S&P 500 after the retailer’s profit and comparable sales beat estimates.
Signet Jewelers surged 16.7 percent after the company issued results and said it would buy an online jeweler.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.02-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.47-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
About 5.27 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, below the 6.08 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.
(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza and Nick Zieminski)