Stocks Slip After China Says Exports Fell in December

AP photo by Richard Drew
Specialist Thomas McArdle, left, and trader Ryan Falvey work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Monday, Jan. 14, 2019. Stocks are opening lower on Wall Street after China reported a surprise drop in exports to the U.S. last month.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock markets around the world are down Monday after China reported a drop in exports in December. Fears about the health of China's economy and the global economy overall were a major contributor to the stock market's plunge in late 2018. Technology companies and retailers are taking some of the biggest losses.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index fell 13 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,583 as of 11:15 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 120 points, or 0.5 percent, to 23,877. The Nasdaq composite retreated 53 points, or 0.8 percent, to 6,917. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks shed 11 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,435.

The S&P 500 dropped almost 20 percent from late September until the day before Christmas, partly because investors were worried that the global economy was slowing down dramatically and could go into a recession soon. Since Dec. 26, stocks have regained about half of what they lost in the downturn, but investors remain sensitive to signs of economic trouble.

CHINA TRADE: China's exports slipped in December, and exports to the U.S. fell 3.5 percent as rising tariffs and broader weakness affected the world's second-largest economy. For the year, exports from China to the U.S. rose 11.3 percent and imports from the U.S. rose just 0.7 percent. Negotiators from the U.S. and China met earlier this month for three days of trade talks, but it's not clear how much progress was made or when the two sides will meet again.

Apple lost 1.6 percent to $149.80. The company's shares tumbled last month after it said sales in China were falling. Wynn Resorts, which runs casinos in Macau, slumped 4.8 percent to $108.12.

MAKING BANK: Citigroup said its profits rose in the last three months of 2018, helped by a lower tax rate and lower expenses. Its profit and revenue both surpassed Wall Street's forecasts. Citi reported a drop in bond trading revenue, as the last three months of 2018 were dominated by extreme market volatility in the stock and bond markets.

Its stock gained 3 percent to $58.42.

BREXIT: British stocks headed lower as lawmakers prepared to vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's deal governing Britain's planned departure from the European Union. All indications are that she will lose Tuesday's vote heavily, and the effects of that loss aren't certain. That could lead to volatility for U.K. markets, particularly the pound.

Some British legislators say the country should reconsider its decision to leave the bloc, possibly by another referendum. Others think that the country would be better off to crash out of the bloc on March 29 without a deal.

The FTSE 100 index fell 1 percent and the pound rose to $1.2891 from $1.2845.

POWERING DOWN: The largest utility in California said it will file for bankruptcy protection and its stock plunged almost 50 percent. PG&E, the parent of Pacific Gas & Electric, faces potentially colossal liabilities over deadly wildfires in 2017 and 2018. The company had announced the resignation of CEO Geisha Williams on Sunday.

PG&E intends to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It is seeking funding so it can continue providing service to customers as it restructures its business. The stock dropped 48.9 percent to $8.99 in heavy trading, leaving the company's market value at about $4.6 billion. Media reports say its liabilities could reach $30 billion.

PG&E was valued at about $25 billion in November, when reports indicated that PG&E had a power outage around the time and place the deadly Camp Fire began. That blaze killed at least 86 people.

ALL MINE: Newmont Mining will buy Canada's Goldcorp for $10 billion, creating the world's biggest gold miner. Miners are consolidating as gold becomes more expensive to procure. Barrick Gold said it would by Randgold for more than $6 billion four months ago. Goldcorp rallied 7.9 percent to $10.46 while Newmont fell 8 percent to $32.09.

EXTRA, EXTRA: Gannett, the publisher of USA Today, got a $1.36 billion takeover bid from a media group with a history of taking over struggling newspapers and slashing costs. MNG Enterprises, better known as Digital First Media, disclosed its offer to Gannett Monday. Gannett said will review the proposal, which values it at $12 per share.

The Wall Street Journal was first to report that the hedge-fund backed MNG has built up a 7.5 percent stake in Gannett, and that it has been rebuffed repeatedly by the company about a sale.

Gannett stock rocketed 18 percent to $11.51.

BONDS: Bond prices were little changed. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note stayed at 2.69 percent.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil gave up 0.5 percent to $51.33 per barrel in New York, while Brent crude, the international standard, fell 0.5 percent to $60.17 per barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 108.25 yen from 108.50 yen. The euro rose to $1.1473 from $1.1465.

OVERSEAS: Germany's DAX slid 0.1 percent while the CAC 40 in France fell 0.2 percent.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index lost 1.4 percent and the Kospi in South Korea declined 0.5 percent.


By AP reporter Marley Jay

Elaine Kurtenbach contributed to this story from Bangkok.

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