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US stocks fall the most in a week since 2012

US stocks fell for the week, pushing benchmark indexes their biggest losses since 2012, as signs of industrial weakness in China spurred concern that global growth would tumble.

The S&P 500 fell 2.6% to 1,790.29 over the four trading days, posting its largest decrease since June 2012 and adding losses for second straight week. The Dow lost 579.45 points, or 3.5%, to 15,879.11, for its biggest drop since May 2012.

“We’ve got the emerging markets under stress concurrent with a mediocre earnings season and we’re seeing money come out of stocks,” Walter “Bucky” Hellwig, who manages 17 billion dollars at BB&T Wealth Management said by phone to Bloomberg. “That does give pause for concern because it casts some doubt on what the rate of global growth might be this year.”

In China, a report indicated factory output may contract this month, based on a preliminary Purchasing Managers’ Index from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics.

Investors also scrutinized corporate earnings during the week. Of the 122 companies in the S&P 500 that have released fourth-quarter results so far this season, 74% have beaten estimates for profit and 67% have exceeded sales projections.

On Friday US stocks dropped drastically to their biggest loss in more than seven months, as investors fear signals turmoil to come as financial markets adjust to a pullback in central-bank stimulus.

Some investors believe more comparative weakness is in store as the Fed withdraws its stimulus, known as quantitative easing, or QE. The U.S.s recovery appears sturdy—which, after all, is why the central bank feels comfortable paring back.

In corporate world, Herbalife shares slumped another 8.8%, following a steep drop on Thursday. Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, called for a probe of the company’s business model by regulators and suggested that Herbalife may be a “possible pyramid scheme.”

In response, Herbalife said it would address his concerns at “his earliest convenience.” Hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has made similar claims about the nutrition supplement company and took a sizable short position on the stock in late 2012.

Starbucks Corp. shares advanced 2.7%. The coffee company reported fiscal first-quarter earnings of 71 cents a share, beating its earnings-per-share forecast of 67 cents to 69 cents. Net revenue rose 12% to $4.24 billion. Starbucks also raised its EPS (earnings per share) outlook for the fiscal year to a range of $2.59 to $2.67 versus $2.55 to $2.65.

Apple is to report its fiscal first-quarter results after the close of trading Monday, analysts surveyed by FactSet will be looking for it to deliver a profit of $14.09 a share on revenue of $57.47 billion for the quarter ended in December, up from earnings of $13.87 a share on $54.5 billion in sales in the same period in 2012.

Since the results will cover the end-of-the-year Christmas and holiday shopping seasons, Apple is expected to post strong sales of its most-popular products, iPhones and iPads.

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