Fear of slowing growth pushes down global markets
Saturday, January 25, 2014 12:02 AM
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
By JOSHUA FREED
AP Business Writer
Fear is back in the market. Investors are fretting about China’s growth, a plunge in Argentina’s peso and the profit outlook for U.S. companies.
Those worries have converged to set off a two-day rout in global markets, and have sent the Dow Jones industrial average down more than 260 points Friday, its biggest daily point decline since June 20, 2013.
Investors are dumping risky assets like stocks and currencies in countries with troubled governments. They are buying safer ones like bonds and the Japanese yen
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average was down 237 points, or 1.5 percent, to 15,960 as of 2:40 p.m. Eastern time Friday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 28 points, or 1.5 percent, to 1,800. The Nasdaq composite was down 72 points, or 1.7 percent, at 4,146.
FLIGHT FROM RISK: The downturn began Thursday following signs that manufacturing was contracting in China, a major importer of raw materials and a key driver of global economic growth. The values of currencies in several emerging markets have dropped. Those markets include Turkey, Russia, South Africa and Argentina.
DOW DOWNER: The Dow has fallen every day this week, leaving it down 3.1 percent. That decline is the Dow’s worst weekly performance since mid-May 2012. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 is down 2.2 percent since last Friday. That’s the index’s worst weekly slide since November 2012.
SMALL CAPS HIT HARD: In another sign that investors are avoiding risk, stocks of smaller companies had even larger declines than broader U.S. market. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks fell 2.6 percent, compared with the Dow’s decline of 1.6 percent.
BIGGEST LOSERS: Railroad operator Kansas City Southern fell the most in the S&P 500 index, plunging $18.43, or 16 percent, to $98.85 after its earnings fell short of what analysts’ forecasts. Tool seller W.W. Grainger Inc. dropped $12, or 5 percent, to $244.66 after reporting income that also disappointed investors. Engine-maker Cummins Inc. fell $5.16, or 4 percent, to $126.88.
BROAD DECLINES: Declining U.S. stocks outnumbered rising ones 6-to-1 on the New York Stock Exchange. All 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 fell. Utilities, telecommunication services and consumer staples stocks fell the least. Traders tend to buy those stocks when they want relatively stable, lower-risk stocks that pay high dividends.
EUROPE AND ASIA: The worries about emerging markets also sent overseas markets lower. Japan’s yen surged, which hurts the prospects for Japan’s export-driven economy. The Nikkei 225 fell 1.9 percent. France’s CAC-40 index fell 2.8 percent and Germany’s DAX lost 2.5 percent.
TREASURIES AND COMMODITIES: Bond prices rose as investors moved money into lower-risk assets. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note declined to 2.74 percent from 2.78 percent late Thursday.