Wall Street's main indexes on Thursday got off to their worst start this year after Donald Trump gave little clarity on his promises for economic growth that had powered a record-breaking rally on Wall Street for two months.
The U.S. President-elect, in his first news conference on Wednesday, gave no details on tax cuts or infrastructure spending, and instead lashed out at U.S. spy agencies and news agencies over what he called a 'phony' Russia dossier.
He also blasted pharmaceutical companies over high drug prices, causing health stocks to snap a six-day winning streak and a wobble in Wall Street.
"The indices are trading lower as investors rethink yesterday Trump press conference," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.
"The fact that there was no mention of fiscal policy is weighing on the greenback this morning (and) causing a cautious mood in the equity arena."
At 9:39 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 85.36 points, or 0.43 percent, at 19,868.92, the S&P 500 was down 8.55 points, or 0.38 percent, at 2,266.77 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 26.91 points, or 0.48 percent, at 5,536.74.
The three indexes experienced their biggest one-day drop since Dec. 30.
Ten of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower, with the technology, financial and industrial sectors all down 0.5 percent or more.
The energy sector was the only one with gains, boosted by a more-than-2 percent rise in oil prices.
The dollar recovered slightly, but continued to trade close to a one-month low. Prices of safe-haven gold rose to their highest since late November.
With Trump's comments at the back of their minds, investors will turn their focus to the earnings season, which will kick off in earnest on Friday when a trio of big banks report.
S&P 500 companies' earnings in the fourth quarter are estimated to have risen 5.7 percent – the best in three years – largely due to a rise in financial stocks, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Merck, one of the few health stocks that avoided Wednesday's carnage, gained 1.8 percent after multiple broker upgrades.
The drugmaker's fellow Dow component Disney Co was off 1.3 percent at $108.12 after Pivotal cut its rating on the stock to 'sell'.
Apple was off 0.63 percent at $119. Skyworks Solutions, an Apple supplier, lost 2.6 percent after a Goldman Sachs downgrade.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,462 to 1,103. On the Nasdaq, 1,580 issues fell and 649 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed four new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 16 new highs and four new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)