It was an ugly day for global stock markets. The Dow briefly wiped away all its gains for the year with all 30 stocks closing negative. European and Asian stocks also got crushed.
First, the scoreboard:
- Dow: 17,826.30, -279.47, (-1.54%)
- S&P 500: 2,081.18, -23.81, (-1.13%)
- Nasdaq: 4,931.81, -75.98, (-1.52%)
And now, the top stories on Friday:
- Global stock markets got slammed. The Dow had its worst day of 2015. All 10 sectors of the S&P 500 closed in the red, and the Nasdaq, with the two other major indexes, closed negative for the week. What goes up must come down, says Brad McMillan, Chief Investment Officer at Commonwealth Financial Network: “Recently, there’s been much more up than down, which suggests today’s down is just an adjustment and nothing to worry about,” he wrote in commentary. “As regular readers know, I start to pay attention when we get close to the 200-day moving average, and we’re nowhere near that point.”
- Earlier on Friday, stocks in China fell by more than 5%. Indexes in Italy and Spain fell by more than 2%, while the Dax in Germany lost 2.6%, the CAC in Paris lost 1.5%, and the FTSE in London fell 0.9%.
- American Express shares posted the biggest losses on the Dow, falling nearly 5%. The credit cards and payments giant reported first quarter earnings Thursday that showed revenues missed forecasts but profits beat investors’ expectations. On the earnings call, CEO Kenneth Chenault said the company plans to invest heavily in keeping its Costco customers, following the non-renewal of their exclusive co-branding deal in February. Barclays analysts lowered their estimates for profits, noting higher operating expenses.
- US regulators are likely to block the $45 billion mega-merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast. No decision has been made yet, but it could come in as soon as one week, according to a report by Bloomberg. There are antitrust concerns about the deal, since it would mean one less competitor in the market. Time Warner Cable shares fell about 5% following the news.
- In economic data, consumer prices fell in March. The headline Consumer Price Index fell 0.1% over the prior year, but on a “core” basis, which excludes the more volatile cost of food and gas, prices rose 1.8%. Prices were expected to be flat over last year and rise 1.7% on a core basis. Compared to last month, prices rose 0.2%, below expectations for a 0.3% increase, and on a “core” basis prices rose 0.2%, in-line with expectations.
- The preliminary reading on consumer confidence from the University of Michigan came in at 95.9, topping expectations for a reading of 94.0. It was the second highest reading since 2007. And, the latest reading on regional manufacturing activity from the Philadelphia Federal Reserve beat expectations, coming in at 7.5. Expectations were for the report to show a reading of 6, up from 5 in March, indicating continued expansion in economic activity in the region.
- Last week, the number of active US oil rigs fell to the lowest level since November 2010. According oil driller Baker Hughes, rigs fell by 26 to 734 last week. Combined oil and gas rigs fell by 34 this week to 954, the lowest since July 2009.
- Bloomberg terminals went down worldwide for nearly three hours on Friday morning. The terminals are an essential part of many traders’ setups to monitor market data, execute trades, and crucially, to instant message one other. Connection was restored before US stock markets opened, but the UK Debt Management Office had to postpone a treasury auction scheduled for 10 a.m. (London time) because of the outage. Traders panicked, turned to Reuters’ data terminal, and laughed it off on Twitter.
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