Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, dismal China data drag Wall Street lower

Johnson & Johnson announced it would recall baby powder in the United States after regulators found trace amounts of asbestos in a sample, sending its shares falling 6.2 per cent. — Reuters pic
Johnson & Johnson announced it would recall baby powder in the United States after regulators found trace amounts of asbestos in a sample, sending its shares falling 6.2 per cent. — Reuters pic

NEW YORK, Oct 19 — Wall Street fell yesterday as negative headlines about Johnson & Johnson and Boeing, along with bleak economic data from China, soured investor risk appetite and offset generally positive corporate earnings.

All three major US stock averages ended the session in the red, but the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq posted weekly gains. The blue-chip Dow was nominally lower than last week’s close.

Boeing Co and Johnson & Johnson shares led both the S&P 500’s and the Dow’s declines.

Boeing dropped 6.8 per cent after Reuters reported that text messages between two employees suggested the planemaker misled the Federal Aviation Administration about the safety of the grounded 737 MAX aircraft.

Johnson & Johnson announced it would recall baby powder in the United States after regulators found trace amounts of asbestos in a sample, sending its shares falling 6.2 per cent.

Growth of China’s gross domestic product slowed to its weakest pace in nearly 30 years as the bruising trade war with the United States took its toll, stoking fears of slowdown contagion.

The International Monetary Fund has lowered its forecast for global growth this year to 3 per cent, which would mark the slowest expansion since the financial crisis.

“There’s no question that there’s signs out there that the economy is weakening,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Spartan Capital Securities in New York.

Today’s market weakness “has to do with (GDP) news out of China, Boeing and Johnson & Johnson,” Cardillo added, saying “market sentiment in terms of earnings is positive.”

Third-quarter earnings season has hit full stride, with 73 companies in the S&P 500 having reported. Of those, 83.6 per cent have come in above average estimates, according to Refinitiv data.

Still, analysts currently see S&P 500 earnings dropping by 3.1 per cent compared with last year, which would mark the first contraction since the earnings recession that ended mid-2016.

Schlumberger NV gained 1.3 per cent after the oilfield services company posted its largest quarterly loss ever as a result of a US$12 billion (RM50.3 billion) charge as Chief Executive Olivier Le Peuch moved to shift focus toward software and services.

American Express Co reported better-than-expected third-quarter profit as consumers boosted their spending. Still, the credit card issuer’s shares dipped 2.0 per cent.

Coca-Cola Co’s revenue beat expectations and an upbeat forecast gave its shares a 1.8 per cent boost.

Kansas City Southern jumped 7.3 per cent after the railroad operator also beat profit expectations, on increased petroleum shipments to Mexico.

Next week, market participants look forward to high profile results from Procter & Gamble Co, United Parcel Service Inc Caterpillar Inc, Boeing, Microsoft Corp , Ford Motor Co, 3M Co, Twitter Inc , Amazon.com, and others.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 255.68 points, or 0.95 per cent, to 26,770.2, the S&P 500 lost 11.75 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 2,986.2 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 67.31 points, or 0.83 per cent, to 8,089.54.

Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, seven closed in the red, with tech, communications services and industrials suffering the biggest percentage declines.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 1.03-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.41-to-1 ratio favoured decliners.

The S&P 500 posted 29 new 52-week highs and two new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 51 new highs and 59 new lows.

Volume on US exchanges was 6.24 billion shares, compared with the 6.55 billion average over the last 20 trading days. — Reuters

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