US stocks tumble with banks leading the way down

Stocks fell Friday as weakness in shares of US banks and finance firms added to the political and trade tensions weighing on the market. Treasury yields slid and oil rose for a fifth straight day, reaching its highest level since December 2014. All major US benchmarks ended lower in lighter than normal trading, with the financial sector pacing losses on a drop of more than 1.5 percent. Wells Fargo & Co. warned that its better than anticipated first-quarter results may change as a settlement with regulators looms, loans dropped and mortgage-banking results trailed predictions. JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. posted quarterly earnings that topped analysts’ expectations, but shares of both companies plunged as JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon said, ‘‘the environment is intensely competitive and lending was flat for the quarter.’’ ‘‘You’re getting a very high expectation for earnings season, which makes me a little bit nervous,’’ said Tom Essaye, the former Merrill Lynch trader who founded market newsletter ‘The Sevens Report.’ After banks reported results ‘‘and it wasn’t another positive catalyst, you just saw people come in and sell the market,’’ he said. The market’s focus also is on political turmoil surrounding President Trump, potential military activity in Syria, and trade tensions between the United States and China. On Thursday, Trump expressed optimism on trade deal with China and hinted that the United States may rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal that he pulled out of shortly after taking office. ‘‘Thus far it’s really all been theater,’’ Brad McMillan, chief investment officer for Commonwealth Financial Network, said of the trade issues. ‘‘Where we might actually start to see it show up in the market again is if companies start talking about the effect of the tariffs on their earnings calls. I think it’s fairly likely that it will at least be mentioned. A lot of companies look for reasons to kind of dial down expectations, and this certainly is a very real one, even though it’s theoretical at the moment.’’