Stocks fall on mixed earnings, weak China report
New York » U.S. stocks are falling broadly in early trading Thursday as investors weigh fourth-quarter earnings reports and a survey from China suggesting the manufacturing sector of the world’s second-largest economy is set to contract.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 145 points, or 0.9 percent, to 16,227 as of 10:23 Eastern time. The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 15 points, or 0.8 percent, to 1,830. The Nasdaq composite dropped 34 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,209.
CHINA INDUSTRIAL: The preliminary reading of HSBC’s purchasing managers’ index for China dipped this month to 49.6, the lowest level since July. Numbers below 50 indicate contraction.
WEAK RESULTS: Several U.S. companies fell after reporting their latest quarterly results, including KeyCorp, Johnson Controls and Jacobs Engineering. Each of those stocks fell about 4 percent.
WATCHING NETFLIX: Netflix jumped 17 percent to $380, the biggest gain in the S&P 500. After the closing bell Wednesday, the streaming video company reported fourth-quarter earnings had climbed six-fold and that it had added 2.3 million subscribers during the period.
EBAY SPIN OFF?: EBay rose 63 cents, or 1 percent, to $55.04 as pressure mounts from activist investor Carl Icahn for the company to spin off PayPal. On Wednesday, Ebay reported higher earnings on strong holiday-season buying and its CEO said that a spin off was not in the best interest of shareholders.
PROFIT PICTURE: Union Pacific rose nearly $6, or 3.5 percent, to $174 after reporting a 13 percent jump in fourth-quarter earnings that beat analyst forecasts. McDonald’s also surprised analysts with $1.40 per share earnings, a penny more than expected, though comparable-store sales edged lower, led by a decline in the U.S. Its stock rose 75 cents, or 1 percent, to $95.63.
TREASURIES AND COMMODITIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.81 percent from 2.86 percent on Wednesday. The price of oil rose 42 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $97.15 a barrel. Gold was up $17.50, or 1.4 percent, to $1,256.10 an ounce.
OVER THERE: European and Asian markets were broadly lower. Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.8 percent to close at 15,695 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.5 percent to 22,733. In European trading, Germany’s DAX fell 1.1 percent to 9,615.