* United down after passenger dragged off overbooked plane
* Financial top S&P sector loser
* Banks set to kick-off 1st-qtr earnings season on Thursday
* Indexes down: Dow 0.1 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.4 pct
(Updates to late afternoon)
By Caroline Valetkevitch
April 11 U.S. stocks eased Tuesday afternoon as
mounting geopolitical tensions drove investors out of riskier
With about an hour left to the session, the S&P 500 was off
its lowest levels of the day, though.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian
government warplanes dropped barrel bombs on rebel-held areas of
Hama province on Tuesday, a day after the United States said
their use could lead to further U.S. strikes in Syria.
Trump ordered a missile strike on the war-torn country last
week as a response to a poison gas attack that his
administration blamed on government forces, pitting the United
States against Russia, which backs Syrian President
Adding to the dour mood, North Korea state media warned of a
nuclear attack on the United States if provoked as a U.S. Navy
strike group moved toward the western Pacific.
Investors also braced for earnings season, which begins this
week with results due from a handful of banks. The financial
sector, down 0.5 percent, was the biggest loser.
"While waiting for earnings, you start to read some of the
geopolitical stuff and tensions are moving up a bit," said Mark
Kepner, managing director, sales and trading, at Themis Trading
in Chatham, New Jersey.
The CBOE Volatility index, also called Wall Street's
"fear gauge", shot up to its highest level in five months, while
prices of spot gold jumped to their highest since
November. Demand for U.S. Treasuries and the Japanese yen also
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 22.53
points, or 0.11 percent, to 20,635.49, the S&P 500 had
lost 6.07 points, or 0.26 percent, to 2,351.09 and the Nasdaq
Composite had dropped 23.20 points, or 0.39 percent, to
Trump's comments during a meeting with chief executives of
U.S. companies helped the market recoup some losses.
Trump said his administration was working to reduce
regulations and revamp the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law,
which may be eliminated and replaced with "something else."
The tailwinds for the market are fundamentals and the hope
of pro-growth policy, while the negatives are the
unpredictability of geopolitical risks, said Art Hogan, chief
market strategist at Wunderlich Equity Capital Markets in New
Shares of United Continental dropped 2.6 percent
after a worldwide backlash erupted against the carrier over a
passenger who was dragged off one of its overbooked U.S.
Thursday will be the last trading day of the week on Wall
Street ahead of the Good Friday holiday.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a
The S&P 500 posted 5 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the
Nasdaq Composite recorded 54 new highs and 41 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru;
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)