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Stocks fall on reports of plans for additional tariffs on China

US equities tumbled Monday as markets continue to push through concerns over corporate earnings and ongoing global tensions.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) fell 0.66%, or 17.43 points, at the end of trading Monday. The Dow (^DJI) fell 0.99%, or 244.64 points. The index dipped into corrective levels during intraday trading, declining as much as 10.5% from its October 3 high of 26,951.81. The Nasdaq (^IXIC) slipped 1.63%, or 116.92 points.

This extends wobbly equity trading from last week, capped off with the S&P 500 dipping to corrective levels during intraday trading Friday. Both the S&P 500 and the Dow closed at levels that erased year-to-date gains.

The S&P 500 and the Dow are each down about 1% for the year. The S&P 500 closed down 10.1% from its September intraday high of 2,940.91 points. The Nasdaq is up about 2% for the year, but down 13% from its all-time high of 8,133.30 reached at the end of August. 

Thanks to the sharp sell-off, more and more strategists are pointing to improved valuations as a buying opportunity.

“October has provided plenty of drama this year. However, In future hindsight, in our view it could prove to be the best buying opportunity investors have had in some time,” John Stoltzfus, chief investment strategist at Oppenheimer, wrote in a note Monday. “Valuations haven’t been this good in years. Consider that the S&P 500 as of last week sported a forward (price-earnings) multiple of just over 15X earnings.”

Stoltzfus added that stock prices are not currently reflecting the 25% earnings growth reported so far in the third-quarter reporting season.

Some strategists, however, expect the market will get a lot cheaper.

“Rallies should be sold until the liquidity picture improves, valuations compress further or 2019 earnings estimates are reduced,” Morgan Stanley’s Michael Wilson said.

NEWS: US is said to be considering imposing additional tariffs on China

The US is said to be considering imposing tariffs on all remaining Chinese imports if discussions between President Donald Trump and Xi Jinping go poorly, according to reports from Bloomberg citing people familiar with the matter. The announcement of new tariffs could take place as early as December and would amount to about $257 billion worth of goods, according. US stocks slid following the report, with the industrials-heavy Dow losing more than 100 points.

China’s top economic planning body is contemplating cutting a tax on most cars in half in a move that would help spur sales in the world’s largest automotive market, according to reports from Bloomberg citing unnamed people familiar with the matter. Car sales in the country are pointing toward their first annual drop in two decades in the wake of the trade war with the US. Automotive stocks, including Volkswagen AG (VOW.DE), Daimler AG (DAI.DE), Ford (F), BMW (BMW.DE) and General Motors (GM), rose in early trading following the report, and equity futures pointed higher. Shares of General Motors rose 1.5% to $33.14 each as of market close Monday, while Ford’s stock advanced 3.4% to $9.29 per share.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., October 24, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

ECONOMY: Personal income rose at slower-than-expected pace in September 

Personal income rose at a 0.2% rate month-over-month in September, falling short of expectations of a 0.4% pace of growth. Personal income had grown at a rate of 0.4% in August, according to data Monday from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Consumer spending in the US grew at a 0.4% pace in September, matching consensus estimates.

The personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, excluding food and energy, rose 0.2% month-over-month in September after staying flat in August. This brings the year-over-year core PCE price index – the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation – to 2%.

These results follow Friday’s reading of a faster-than-expected 3.5% annualized pace of growth for the US economy.

STOCKS: IBM to acquire Red Hat 

IBM (IBM) is acquiring Red Hat (RHT), a distributor of open-source software and technology, in a deal valued at about $34 billion, the companies announced in a joint statement Sunday. This marks the largest acquisition ever by the 107-year-old IBM. Big Blue will pay in cash for all shares of Red Hat at $190 each. Red Hat will become a part of IBM’s Hybrid Cloud division, and Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst will report to IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. IBM has recently been boosting its cloud units, announcing the launch of a Multicloud Manager and cloud-based cyber security platform earlier this month.

Shares of Blue Apron (APRN) surged in early trading Monday after the company announced that Walmart-owned (WMT) Jet.com will begin offering its meal kits. Blue Apron has been struggling to compete with similar meal-delivery service companies including Berlin-based HelloFresh, and its initial public offering came during the same summer as Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods. Shares of Blue Apron surged 11.4% to $1.27 per share at the end of trading Monday.

Emily McCormick is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @emily_mcck

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