AT&T Inc., the largest U.S. phone carrier, retreated 1.2 percent to $35.20. MetroPCS Communications Inc., which Sprint has considered buying, fell 4.9 percent to $11.30.
Hasbro Inc. fell 3.5 percent to $37.94. The world’s second- largest toymaker was downgraded to sell from neutral at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Consol Energy Inc. decreased 2.3 percent to $34.33. The largest U.S. coal producer by market value announced an unexpected third-quarter net loss after idling mines in response to lower demand.
“The upcoming U.S. election and resolution of the fiscal cliff pose a significant risk for equities,” Marko Kolanovic, global head of derivatives and quantitative strategy at JPMorgan & Chase Co., wrote in a report today. “Higher taxes could negatively impact all equities with a proportionally larger impact on specific groups such as high-dividend yielding stocks.”
The so-called fiscal cliff refers to the $600 billion of tax increases and spending cuts that will kick in automatically in 2013 unless Congress fails to break a partisan deadlock and reach agreement on the nation’s budget deficit.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama will hold their second debate at 9 p.m. tomorrow at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. It will be a town hall format, which will allow audience questions on a full range of issues.
“In the U.S., the continuous threat to raise taxes has led to unprecedented levels of public policy uncertainty, dampening economic activity,” Barry Knapp, head of U.S. equity strategy at Barclays Plc’s securities unit, wrote in a note to clients today. “If the small business sector believes pro-growth tax reform and entitlement restructuring will keep the tax issue off the table, then the cyclical recovery becomes more probable.”
The S&P 500 has gained 16 percent on average in election years when a Republican wins and an equal amount when the incumbent remains in the White House, according to Credit Suisse Group AG.