Stocks sink on weak industrial earnings
New York – U.S. stocks slumped again Thursday as investors continued to sell shares of technology and internet companies, industrials, and companies that rely on consumer spending.
Several industrial companies tumbled after releasing weak quarterly reports, and European stocks also fell as European Union leaders criticized Italy’s spending plans.
At the start of trading, stocks took small losses as bond prices fell and interest rates spiked. While the gain in interest rates didn’t last, stocks turned lower late in the morning, and by the end of the day they had wiped away most of their big rally on Tuesday.
The S&P 500 fell 40 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,768. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 327 points, or 1.3 percent, to 25,379. It was down as much as 470 earlier.
The Nasdaq gave up 157 points, or 2.1 percent, to 7,485. The Russell 2000 of smaller-company stocks fell 28 points, or 1.8 percent, to 1,560.
Stocks have skidded over the last two weeks, and there are signs investors are worried about future economic growth. The S&P 500 has fallen 5.5 percent in volatile trading since Oct. 3, and technology, industrial and energy companies have taken some of the biggest losses. Those companies tend to do better when the economy is growing more quickly and consumers and businesses have more money to spend.
Industrial and basic materials companies have taken bigger losses than any other part of the market over the last month, and one reason is that investors feel they are especially vulnerable in the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China. They’re already dealing with tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, which have increased their costs and can also hurt sales.
“If uncertainty starts to creep in around trade or growth, that could be a risk to the recovery in … corporate spending,” said Jill Carey Hall, senior U.S. equity strategist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
The stocks that have held up the best include utility and household products companies. They don’t depend as much on economic growth, as consumers are likely to use about the same amount of electricity and buy the same amount of toilet paper or cereal regardless of the state of the economy.
European leaders expressed concern about the Italian government’s plans to increase spending and widen its budget deficit. European Union budget chief Pierre Moscovici told Italy’s economic minister that the government’s plans make it unlikely that Italy will be able to reduce its public debt to levels agreed upon by EU countries.
Italy’s FTSE MIB dropped 1.9 percent and Italian government bond prices dropped again, sending yields to their highest levels since February of 2014. Germany’s DAX dipped 1.1 percent. The French CAC 40 lost 0.5 percent and the FTSE 100 in Britain slipped 0.4 percent.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index sank 0.8 percent and the Kospi in South Korea lost 0.9 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was little changed, and remained near its lowest level since May 2017.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP