The Dow sinks more than 200 points

The three major US indices slipped Wednesday as an earnings-fuelled rally lost steam and ahead of Federal Reserve meeting minutes, with Wall Street still on edge following a sell-off that had battered global stocks last week.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 0.84%, or more than 200 points. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.59%, and the S&P 500 was down 0.51%.

“The mood has turned sour, reflecting a mix of political noise and a few soggy data prints,” said Mark McCormick, a strategist at TD Securities.

A strong start to earnings season had earlier helped stocks stage a recovery. Big banks posted third-quarter earnings that flew past Wall Street expectations. Netflix also beat and added nearly seven million subscriptions, while IBM missed.

Before the US open, government data showed housing starts fell more than expected in September. Homebuilding across the country dropped 5.3% last month, the Commerce Department said, with particularly weak construction activity in the South.

Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said Hurricane Florence probably played a role in downward revisions to August housing starts. But a potential slowdown in the housing market has been widely anticipated.

“Permits are much less susceptible to weather effects than starts,” he said. “The bottom line here is straightforward; the housing market has peaked for this cycle.”

Later Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is set to release minutes from its September meeting. With unemployment at multi-decade lows and signs wage growth could pick up, many expect to find signals that another rate hike is coming this December.

Heading into the first day of legalised pot in Canada, cannabis stocks tumbled. Tilray shed nearly 5%, while Canopy Growth was down about 4%. Ottawa is the second in the world to authorise recreational marijuana use nationwide.

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