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Stock Market Live Updates: Markets retrace losses amid Iran fears, close lower

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4:18 p.m. ET: Markets closer lower

Here’s where markets settled as of 4:18 p.m. ET:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -0.28% or -9.10 points to 3,237.18

  • Dow (^DJI): -0.42% or -119.70 points to 28,583.68

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -0.03% or -2.88 points to 9,068.58

  • Gold (GC=F): +0.24% or +3.80 to 1,572.60 per ounce

  • Crude (CL=F): -0.87% or -0.55 to 62.72 a barrel

11:55 a.m. ET: Markets will breathe a ‘sigh of relief’ if Trump is re-elected

Nuveen’s Bob Doll is among and Wall Street strategists warning that 2020 will be dominated by politics as a presidential election looms. The veteran strategist argued that for markets, status quo in Washington would be well-received.

“Donald Trump [gets] re-elected, Democrats retain the House, Republicans retain the Senate— that’s the status quo, nothing changes,” he said on Yahoo Finance’s “The First Trade.

More here.

11:36 a.m. ET: Bargain hunting pulls Nasdaq into the green

In the absence of bad news and fresh Iran developments, stocks are shedding earlier losses and trading near breakeven. The Nasdaq has inched marginally into the green amid bargain-hunting, but the bias remains lower with geopolitics front and center. Oil is also providing a boost, as crude prices pull back from last week’s spike high.

Here’s where markets traded just before noon Eastern:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -0.15%, or 5 points

  • Dow (^DJI): -0.21%, or 61 points

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -0.12%, or 10.48 points

  • 10-year Treasury yield (^TNX): flat to 1.0813%

  • Gold (GC=F): +0.10% to $1,570.30 per ounce

  • Crude (CL=F): -1.6 to $62.33

11:24 a.m. ET: Trade gap bodes well for growth

FILE - In this July 21, 2015, file photo, an oil tanker passes a fisherman as it enters a channel near Port Aransas, Texas, heading for the Port of Corpus Christi. The U.S., seemingly awash in crude oil after an energy boom sent thousands of workers scurrying to the plains of Texas and North Dakota, will begin exporting oil for the first time since the 1973 oil embargo. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Wall Street economists are taking a second look at growth assumptions for the tail end of 2019, given the sharp drop in the trade imbalance in November, to around $47 billion. Goldman Sachs is reserving judgement on Q4 growth figures, but noted that U.S. imports fell at a steeper rate than exports shipped abroad:

The rise in real exports was driven by an increase in nonpetroleum (+1.1%) exports, while petroleum (-4.0%) exports fell. The decrease in real imports reflected both a decline in nonpetroleum (-1.2%) and petroleum (-2.7%) imports.

Separately, Capital Economics said the data were unequivocally bullish for fourth quarter GDP:

The sharp narrowing in the trade deficit to $43.1bn in November, from $46.9bn, was driven by another fall in imports that will be reversed in the coming months. Nevertheless, net trade appears to have provided a big boost to fourth-quarter GDP growth, which we now estimate was 2.0% annualized.

Nevertheless, not everyone is as sanguine about 2020. Bond giant Pimco thinks the U.S. will lag global growth this year, with a 30% recession risk over the next 12 months.

11:05 a.m. ET: Why the market may crater 15% in the first quarter

Stock prices don’t go up in a straight line, something investors sitting on last year’s massive gains are likely to be reminded of soon as geopolitical tensions ratchet up.

For those reasons, veteran market strategist Jack Ablin of Cresset Capital told Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade on Tuesday that a 15% correction in the first 3 months of 2020 is a real possibility.

“We have a lot of geopolitical uncertainties, that could be the catalyst. Essentially we have got everything in place — strong liquidity, strong momentum but valuations are high,” he said.

10:30 a.m. ET: PayPal, Square rally on bullish analyst calls

The PayPal app logo seen on a mobile phone in this illustration photo October 16, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration

Constructive calls from Wall Street analysts help spark a rally in PayPal (PYPL) and Square (SQ), two of the biggest names in the payment space. Bloomberg notes that Bank of America’s Jason Kupferberg said Square has a “favorable setup” as he hiked the stock to “Buy” from “Neutral.” Meanwhile, expectations regarding PayPal have been “reset,” Sanford C. Bernstein’s Harshita Rawat wrote in a note, boosting the stock to outperform. 

10:00 a.m. ET: U.S. services sector expands in December

The Institute for Supply Management’s non-manufacturing index showed the services sector expanded last month, with the figure checking in above expectations at 55. It underscores how U.S. fundamentals mostly continue to defy gravity in the face of unrelenting uncertainty.

Drilling deeper into the numbers, the ISM survey’s respondents were “positive about the potential resolution on tariffs. Capacity constraints have eased a bit; however, respondents continue to have difficulty with labor resources."

9:30 a.m. ET: Stocks open modestly weaker as Iran, data weigh

Wall Street probes the downside after Monday’s session saw more selling on fears about intensifying U.S.-Iran tensions. The downside is capped by news that the U.S. trade deficit fell to a more than three-year low in November as the U.S. spars with China over trade.

Here’s where markets began Tuesday’s session:

  • S&P 500 (^GSPC): -0.35%, or 11.41 points

  • Dow (^DJI): -0.38%, or 109.89 points

  • Nasdaq (^IXIC): -0.26%, or 21.26 points

  • 10-year Treasury yield (^TNX): flat to 1.0807%

  • Gold (GC=F): +0.50% to $1,569.30 per ounce

  • Crude (CL=F): -0.60 to $62.67

Bullion has become an exponent of the market’s geopolitical fears, which is parked at its highest levels in nearly 7 years. Investors also have more than enough data to chew on this week.

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