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Stocks - Wall Street Drops on Geopolitical Fears, U.S. Growth Slowdown

Investing.com - U.S. stocks headed lower at Thursday’s open as solid annual growth stateside was insufficient to completely allay geopolitical concerns with respect to North Korea and China.

At 9:37 AM ET (14:37 GMT), the Dow Jones dropped 19 points, or 0.07% to 25,965.68 points, the S&P 500 lost 5 points, or 0.19%, to 2,787.08 while the Nasdaq Composite traded down 17 points, or 0.23%, to 7,537.15 points.

GDP in the fourth quarter slowed as expected to 2.6%. The reading left the U.S. with an annual expansion of 3.1% in 2018, the first yearly print above 3% since 2005, but provides further evidence of a loss of momentum at the end of the year as the effect of the 2017 tax cuts fades.

“This ends the 12-year streak without a 3% print, by far the longest in our country’s history,” Ryan Detrick, senior market strategist at LPL Financial, said.

Detrick also noted that stocks were off to a positive start this year, with the S&P 500 showing its best performance since 1987.

“But be aware over the past 20 years, March and April have been the two strongest months,” he added.

The data released ahead of the open pared losses seen in U.S. futures, but sentiment was still marred by U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks that he had walked away from talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un because of unacceptable demands to lift sanctions.

Trump insisted that good progress was made over denuclearization, but that the U.S. could not lift all of the sanctions at the current juncture.

“Sometimes you have to walk, and this was just one of those times,” Trump said, adding that “it was a friendly walk.”

Markets had already turned more cautious after comments from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Wednesday.

Lighthizer told a Congressional hearing that it was too early to predict an outcome to negotiations between Washington and Beijing over trade, dampening hopes for a quick and comprehensive deal.

On the earnings front, JC Penney (NYSE:JCP) soared 20.97% as fourth-quarter profit beat expectations. The company also announced that it expects to generate free cash flow in the coming year as it accelerates a withdrawal from less profitable stores.

Anheuser Busch Inbev (NYSE:BUD) surged 5.39% after the company forecast stronger growth and faster debt reduction in 2019.

In negative earnings news, Box (NYSE:BOX) tumbled 20.41% after the company reported mixed fourth-quarter earnings and tough competition led it to issue guidance for the fiscal 2020 year below expectations.

Meanwhile, Fitbit (NYSE:FIT) plunged 15.36% after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings that missed analysts’ estimates and disappointed with its update on first-quarter performance.

Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) and VMware (NYSE:VMW) are among firms set to release earnings after Thursday’s close.

Outside of equities, the U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback against six rival currencies, slipped 0.05% to 95.99 by 9:40 AM ET (14:40 GMT), while the yield on the 10-year Treasury was unchanged at 2.69%.

In commodities, gold futures dipped 0.02% at $1,320.95 a troy ounce, while crude oil inched up 0.02% to $56.95 a barrel.

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