By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street stocks fell on Tuesday, with each of the major indexes notching their worst day in about a month as economic data and weaker-than-expected auto sales spurred concerns about growth.
Shares of Ford <F.N> and General Motors <GM.N> dropped more than 4 percent each after the two major U.S. automakers reported July vehicle sales slightly below expectations.
The automakers' declines pulled the S&P consumer discretionary sector <.SPLRCD> down 1.5 percent as the worst- performing of the 10 major S&P groups.
Data showed U.S. consumer spending rose more than expected in June as households bought a range of goods and services.
However, personal income rose only 0.2 percent, missing estimates of 0.3 percent, while inflation remained below the Federal Reserve's 2 percent target. That could keep the central bank on a cautious path to hiking interest rates.
"People are starting to see that things aren’t quite as rosy as they might have thought in the month of July with that big run up," said Peter Jankovskis, co-chief investment officer at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois. The S&P 500 climbed 3.6 percent in July, its best month since March.
Another drop in U.S. crude <CLc1> below $40 a barrel also weighed on sentiment, as the commodity settled down 1.4 percent at $39.51.
Pfizer <PFE.N>, was the biggest percentage decliner on the Dow, after the largest U.S. drugmaker reported better-than-expected quarterly results but revenue from its branded patent-protected medicines was disappointing.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> fell 90.74 points, or 0.49 percent, to 18,313.77, the S&P 500 <.SPX> lost 13.81 points, or 0.64 percent, to 2,157.03 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 46.46 points, or 0.9 percent, to 5,137.73.
CVS <CVS.N> jumped more than 5 percent to $98.57 after the drugstore chain operator's quarterly profit beat estimates.
Of the 353 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Tuesday morning, 71 percent have topped analyst expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data. Earnings for the second quarter are expected to show a decline of 2.6 percent, an improvement from the expected 4.5 percent decline on July 1.
Equities pared early losses after a report in the Wall Street Journal that biotechnology giant Biogen Inc <BIIB.O> has drawn takeover interest from drug companies, including Merck & Co Inc <MRK.N> and Allergan Plc <AGN.N>. Biogen shares surged 9.4 percent to $330.11 and the Nasdaq biotechnology index <.NBI> climbed 0.2 percent after falling as much as 1.8 percent.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 3.35-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.97-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 14 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 54 new highs and 38 new lows.
About 7.45 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 6.64 billion daily average over the last 20 sessions.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)