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S&P 500 set for another down week as January's rally fizzles

Traders Patrick Casey, center, and Peter Tuchman, right, work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street as a mixed bag of earnings reports didn't inspire investors to get back to buying stocks. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
February 08, 2019 - 9:43 AM

U.S. stocks declined in early afternoon trading Friday, joining a worldwide move lower as concerns remain high about global trade and the strength of the economy.

The S&P 500 was on pace to close out its second down week in the last three as investors hit pause following a tumultuous two months where the index followed up its worst December since 1931 with its best January in three decades.

On the plus side for stocks: Companies are in the midst of reporting better-than-expected earnings for the last three months of 2018, and the Federal Reserve has indicated it will take a more patient approach to raising interest rates. But concerns are building about whether profits can keep growing this year.

Investors are also worried about predicted slowdowns in economies around the world, with trade tensions between the United States and China adding to the strain. Warnings about slower growth from Europe and the United Kingdom earlier this week hit hard.

The U.S. stock market's losses were widespread Friday, with roughly three quarters of all the stocks in the S&P 500 index lower. Financial stocks had some of the sharpest drops and were hurt by a drop in interest rates, which can limit the profits they make from lending money.

Treasury yields fell as investors continued to seek out safer areas of the market given all the economic and profit concerns. Treasury yields fall when prices for the bonds rise.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 fell 0.6 per cent as of 12:33 p.m. Eastern time, and was on pace for its third straight decline.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 199 points, or 8 per cent, to 24,970, and the Nasdaq composite lost 0.6 per cent. Major indexes in Europe declined.

SCREECHING HALT: Goodyear Tire & Rubber plunged 8.9 per cent, one of the biggest losses in the S&P 500 index, after reporting weaker-than-expected profit for the latest quarter. It cited some weakness in China, which has been a big source of concern for investors recently.

The world's second-largest economy is in the midst of a sharp economic slowdown, and it's a huge market for many big U.S. companies.

PLAY TIME: Mattel surged to one of the biggest gains in the S&P 500 after reporting a bigger-than-expected profit for its latest quarter. Its stock leaped 22.7 per cent.

Rival Hasbro, though, fell after its own earnings report fell short of Wall Street's expectations. Its stock dropped 4.5 per cent.

CHIPPED AWAY: Chipmaker Qorvo declined 4.4 per cent despite reporting stronger earnings for its latest quarter than Wall Street expected. Investors focused instead on its revenue forecast for the current quarter, which was below analysts' expectations. The company said cited weakness across the smartphone market.

TABLOID SAGA: Amazon.com dropped 2.5 per cent after its CEO, Jeff Bezos, said he was the target of blackmail by the publisher of the National Enquirer, which he said threatened to publish revealing personal photos of him. Bezos, who is also the owner of the Washington Post, has been locked in an increasingly tense buildup with President Donald Trump, and the Enquirer has been a strong backer of Trump in the past. The Enquirer's publisher said Friday that it acted lawfully while reporting the story and will look into the claims.

Amazon is one of the biggest stocks in the S&P 500, so its movements have a larger effect on index funds than other stocks.

TRADE CONCERNS: Markets around the world have been lurching up and down in recent months as investors worry about fallout from the U.S.-China trade dispute. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he doesn't plan to meet Chinese leader Xi Jinping before their cease-fire on tariffs expires in early March.

Unless American and Chinese negotiators come to a new agreement, the U.S. is expected to raise import taxes from 10 per cent to 25 per cent for $200 billion in Chinese goods. The trade dispute between the world's two largest economies, which has cooled in recent months, has weighed on the outlook of businesses and the global economy.

Trump's announcement weighed on markets around the world, and indexes in Europe and Asia mostly fell.

YIELDS: The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 2.63 per cent from 2.65 per cent late Thursday. It had been above 3 per cent as recently as December.


AP Business Writer Annabelle Liang contributed from Singapore

News from © The Associated Press, 2019
The Associated Press

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