Wall Street closed sharply lower on Thursday after the United States – China trade dispute intensified. The broad-based market decline was further aggravated after the European Commission lowering its economic growth forecast for the European Union. All three major stock indexes finished in the red.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) closed at 25,169.53, declining 0.9% or 220.77 points. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 Index (INX) also decreased 0.9% to close at 2,706.05. The Nasdaq Composite Index (IXIC) closed at 7,288.35, losing 1.2%. A total of 7.82 billion shares were traded on Thursday, higher than the last 20-session average of 7.49 billion shares. Decliners outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 2.34-to-1 ratio. On the Nasdaq, decliners had an edge over advancers by 2.08-to-1 ratio. The CBOE VIX increased 6.4% to close at 16.37.
How Did the Benchmarks Perform?
The Dow ended in negative territory for second straight-day. Notably, 27 stocks of the 30-stocks blue-chip index finished in the red while three ended in the red. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite finished in the red after three-straight days, due to weak performance by large-cap tech stocks.
The S&P 500 closed in negative territory for second consecutive days. The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) declined significantly by 2.2% while Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU) gained 1.3%. Notably, nine out of 11 sectors of the benchmark index closed in the red while the remaining two finished in the green.
Trade Conflict Intensifies
On Feb 7, President Donald Trump said that he would not meet with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping before Mar 1. Notably, the two countries are currently going through a 90-day truce period during which they will refrain from imposing fresh tariffs on each other. The deadline will come to an end on Mar 1.
Moreover, National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said that while the United States and China are trying earnestly to resolve ongoing trade disputes between them, mutually satisfying solution is miles away.
In its State of the Union address on Feb 6, Trump mentioned that any agreement should “include real, structural change to end unfair trade practices, reduce our chronic trade deficit and protect American jobs.” The primary concern of the Trump administration stems from the apprehension that China is stealing intellectual property from U.S. companies by unfair means.
Consequently, shares of trade-sensitive stocks such as The Boeing Co. BA, Caterpillar Inc. CAT and Deere & Co. DE plummeted 1%, 1.4% and 1.2%. The Boeing carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 RanK (Strong Buy) stocks here.
EC Reduces Eurozone Growth Projections
On Feb 6, the European Commission lowered its 2019 growth projection for the19-member Eurozone from 1.9% in November to 1.3%. The growth rate for 2020 has been projected at 1.6%. The EC cited weaker demand for its exports from China and geopolitical issues related to Brexit are the root cause for lowering its growth target. Moreover, both Germany and Italy, the two largest economies of the Eurozone, are likely to face several headwinds in 2019.
The Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims decreased by 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 for the week ended Feb 2. However, the figure was higher than the consensus estimate of 224,000.
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