Tech stocks pull Wall Street lower after China data

(Reuters) – Technology shares pulled Wall Street lower on Monday, after an unexpected drop in China’s exports in December reignited worries of a slowdown in global economic growth.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The China trade data reinforced concerns that U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods were taking a toll on the world’s second-largest economy, prompting companies such as Apple Inc (AAPL.O) to issue profit warning.

Chipmakers, which get a sizable portion of their revenue from China, took a hit, with the Philadelphia SE semiconductor index .SOX down 1.01 percent. Trade-sensitive Boeing Co (BA.N) and Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) also declined.

Citigroup Inc (C.N) kicked off the fourth-quarter earnings season for large U.S. banks by beating Wall Street profit estimates on Monday as lower expenses offset a drop in quarterly revenue.

The bank’s shares, which opened lower, reversed course to trade up 4.2 percent after Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach said the slowdown in China was not particularly disruptive to its global operations.

“The theme we’re going to see in a lot of earnings is not what the fourth-quarter numbers are, but what we expect going forward,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Gains in Citigroup shares helped bolster the S&P financial sector .SPSY, which rose 0.80 percent and was the only gainer among the 11 major S&P indexes.

JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) are set to report earnings on Tuesday.

The technology sector’s .SPLRCT 0.81 percent fall was the biggest drag on the S&P 500. Still, a recent rally in stocks, fueled by U.S.-China trade optimism and hopes of a slow pace of interest rate hikes, has driven a 10 percent gain in the S&P 500 .SPX from its Christmas Eve low.

The benchmark index is about 12 percent away from its Sept. 20 record close.

“Obviously the biggest concern is the China trade data and people are seeing it in terms of a global synchronized slowdown that is potentially picking up,” Abbasi said.

“We’re definitely in an area where it could be a combination of things including the fact that we have rallied really nicely off the bottom.”

At 12:51 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI was down 73.01 points, or 0.30 percent, at 23,922.94, the S&P 500 .SPX was down 11.65 points, or 0.45 percent, at 2,584.61 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 45.61 points, or 0.65 percent, at 6,925.87.

Adding to the downbeat mood was a partial government shutdown, which entered its 24th day, making it the longest shuttering of federal agencies in U.S. history.

Analysts expect S&P 500 companies to post a 14.3 percent growth in fourth-quarter earnings, much lower than the 25 percent growth rate registered in the first three quarters of 2018, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Among other stocks, PG&E Corp (PCG.N) plunged 47.58 percent after the biggest U.S. power utility said it was preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for all of its businesses.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 1.32-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.53-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded no new 52-week highs and one new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 14 new highs and 11 new lows.

Reporting by Medha Singh and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva

Tagged ,