Stocks dip as investors fear a weakening global economy

Stocks across the world are down Tuesday as investors again grow concerned about signs the global economy is weakening. The International Monetary Fund trimmed its economic forecasts for 2019 and 2020 and pointed to risks including trade tensions and rising interest rates. China’s government said its economy grew in 2018 at the slowest pace since 1990.

Technology companies skidded, and so did industrial companies, which were hurt by the slower growth forecast as well as some weak fourth-quarter earnings.

KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 index lost 25 points, or 1 percent, to 2,645 as of 11:30 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 196 points, or 0.8 percent, to 24,510. The Nasdaq composite fell 79 points, or 1.1 percent, to 7,077. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks dropped 14 points, or 1 percent, to 1,468.

Stocks in Europe and Asia took similar losses. But even with the decline Tuesday, the S&P 500 is up 5.5 percent in 2019 and has jumped 12.5 percent since hitting its recent low on Dec. 24. It’s on a four-week winning streak as investors have concluded a slowdown in the world economy might not be as painful as they feared last year.

GLOBAL GROWTH: The IMF is now says the global economy will grow 3.5 percent this year, down from its previous forecast of 3.7 percent. Managing Director Christine Lagarde said the global economy was growing more slowly than expected as risks increase. She also said the bank cut its estimate for growth in 2020 to 3.6 percent from 3.7 percent.

Earlier in the day, China reported its economy expanded by 6.6 percent in 2018. This was the slowest pace of growth since 1990 and it fueled fears a trade dispute with Washington is putting a drag on the world’s second largest economy.

Technology and industrial companies took some of the worst losses. Construction and mining equipment maker Caterpillar shed 2.4 percent to $133.33 and farm equipment company Deere fell 2.8 percent to $160.06. Among technology companies, chipmakers absorbed sharp losses. Nvidia fell 3.4 percent to $151.55 and Texas Instruments lost 2.3 percent to $97.11.

U.S. crude lost 2.9 percent to $52.23 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, dropped 2.9 percent to $60.93 a barrel in London.

ANALYSIS: “The IMF’s prognosis is fairly dire, and the prescription is a sensible approach of preventive management; to avoid escalating trade disputes, lower tariffs and build fiscal or financial buffers,” wrote Vishnu Varathan of Mizuho Bank in a note to clients.

METAL MELTDOWN: Aluminum products maker Arconic slumped 17.6 percent to $16.77 after it said it is no longer considering a sale. Formerly a part of aluminum giant Alcoa, Arconic said it didn’t receive any offers it thought were in its best interests. The stock has gyrated over the last few months following reports the company was considering a sale.

Power tools maker Stanley Black and Decker sank 13.3 percent to 118.62 after its forecast for 2019 fell short of Wall Street estimates.

BUY IT NOW?: eBay surged 7.5 percent to $33.34 after activist investment firm Elliott Management disclosed a 4 percent stake in the online marketplace and pushed it to make changes. It said eBay’s classifieds and StubHub ticket resale division are both struggling, and eBay should consider separating them from its marketplace business.

CONVENIENCE, IN CARS, GETTING COFFEE: Starbucks is expanding delivery to some stores in New York, Boston, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles in the next few weeks. The company said it intends to offer delivery from almost one-fourth of its U.S. company-operated shops through a partnership with Uber Eats. There will be a $2.49 booking fee.

The stock rose 2 percent to $66.03.

BREXIT PLAN: British Prime Minister Theresa May presented her Plan B for Britain’s exit from the European Union on Monday, but it looks a lot like the original and it’s not clear if she can win approval in Parliament. May said she will get more opinions on a widely-criticized “backstop” in the plan, aimed at preventing a hard border between the Republic of Ireland, part of the EU, and the U.K’s Northern Ireland after Brexit. She will then “take the conclusions of those discussions back to the EU.” The bloc has said it will not renegotiate the divorce deal, which was resoundingly rejected by Parliament last week.

Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union in a little more than two months, and if it departs without a trade deal it could cause major hardships for numerous companies, especially banks.

GASSED: Natural gas dropped 9.5 percent to $3.15 per 1,000 cubic feet.

BONDS: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.75 percent from 2.78 percent.

OVERSEAS: The British FTSE 100 index slid 1 percent. Germany’s DAX and the French CAC 40 both gave up 0.6 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index shed 0.5 percent and the Kospi in South Korea sank 0.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.7 percent.


Annabelle Liang contributed from Singapore.