Closing Update: Market Sell-Off Accelerates Near Close; Slowing Chinese Growth, Ukraine Undermine Stocks


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U.S. stocks fell for a fourth day Thursday, with worries over Chinese economic growth and a weekend referendum on severing the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine overwhelming mostly postive economic data at home. Nine of the 10 sectors in the S&P 500 declined, with the steepest slides for technology and industrial stocks as well as shares of consumer discretionary companies. Utility stocks were the lone gainers today, picking up support in likely haven-shopping for many traders.

New data out of China overnight showed the world second largest economy slowing, with growth in investment, retail sales and factory output all falling to multi-year lows.

Chinese industrial output rose 8.6% during January and February over year-ago levels, the National Bureau of Statistics said, its slowest rise since April 2009 and missing market expectations for a 9.5% advance. Retail sales grew 11.8% during the first two months of the year, lagging expectations for a 13.5% rise, while fixed-asset investment rose a below-consenus 17.9% in January and February.

The news was better closer to home for U.S. investors, with the Labor Department reporting a surprise 9,000 drop in first-time jobless claims last week, topping expectations for a 7,000 rise. Import and export prices also beat market expectations while February retail sales grew 0.3%, the Commerce Department, nudging out consensus opinion looking for a 0.2% gain. But January figures were revised lower, reflecting the effect of cold weather on the economy in early 2014.

Natural gas futures fell after new inventory data found a drop of 195 billion cubic feet during the week ended March 7, matching industry expectations for the period. The April natural gas contract settled 11 cents lower at $4.38 per 1 million BTU while April crude oil rose 21 cents to finish at $98.20 per barrel.

April gold climbed $1.50 to $1372.10 per ounce while May silver slid 19 cents to $21.17 per ounce. Copper continued its recent skid, with the May contract slipping another 4 cents to settle at $2.92 per pound with declining growth in China seen eroding demand for the industrial metal.

Here's where the markets stood at end-of-day:

Dow Jones Industrial Average down 1.4% at 16,108

S&P 500 down 1.2% at 1,846

Nasdaq Composite Index down 1.5% at 4,260


Hang Seng Index down 0.67%

Shanghai China Composite Index up 1.07%

FTSE 100 Index down 0.89%


(+) DXM, Reports 43.4% year over year rise in Q4 revenue to $429 million, including a 5.1% rise in digital advertising sales over the year-ago period. Records $576 million operating loss, reversing a $16 million operating profit last year.

(+) SGMS, Narrows Q4 net loss compared to year-ago levels to $500,000, or $0.01 per share, improving on $0.14 loss last year. Revenue rises 62.8% year over year to $401.9 mln, topping analyst projections by $13.84 mln.

(+) APPY, Shares climb to 2-year highs after the company issues positive top-line results from late-stage testing of its APPY1 diagnostic test to determine appendicitis risk.


(-) MLNK, Prices upsized $90 mln offering of its convertible senior notes due 2019. Net proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes, including potential acquisitions and strategic business opportunities. No deals are currently pending.

(-) MEI, Fiscal Q3 earnings of $0.38 per share during the three months ended Feb. 1 lag the Capital IQ consensus by $0.01. Revenue rose 54.3% over year-ago levels to $189.8 million, topping analyst projections by around $15 million.

(-) DSCO, Q4 net loss grows 72% over year-ago levels to $11.7 million, or $0.16 per share. Gross revenue totaled just $74,000, trailing estimates by 79%, with $140,000 in sales of its Surfaxin breathing aid deferred to future quarters.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Copyright (C) 2014 All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

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