The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Business

January 24, 2014

Fear of slowing growth pushes down global markets

NEW YORK — Fear is back in the market. Investors are fretting about China’s growth, a plunge in Argentina’s peso and the profit outlook for U.S. companies.

Those worries have converged to set off a two-day rout in global markets, and have sent the Dow Jones industrial average down 200 points Friday.

Investors are dumping risky assets like stocks and currencies in countries with troubled governments. They are buying safer ones like bonds and the Japanese yen.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 192 points, or 1.2 percent, to 16,003 as of 1 p.m. Eastern time Friday. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 23 points, or 1.3 percent, to 1,804. The Nasdaq composite was down 62 points, or 1.5 percent, at 4,155.

FLIGHT FROM RISK: The downturn began Thursday following signs that manufacturing was contracting in China, a major importer of raw materials and a key driver of global economic growth. The values of currencies in several emerging markets have dropped. Those markets include Turkey, Russia, South Africa and Argentina.

“All of that is making the market very sensitive and very vulnerable to growth expectations in emerging markets,” said with Anastasia Amoroso, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds.

SMALL CAPS HIT HARD: In another sign that investors are avoiding risk, stocks of smaller companies had even larger declines than broader U.S. market. The Russell 2000 index of small-company stocks fell 2.3 percent, compared with the Dow’s decline of 1.3 percent.

BIGGEST LOSERS: Railroad operator Kansas City Southern fell the most in the S&P 500 index, plunging $15.49, or 13 percent, to $101.79 after its earnings fell short of what analysts’ forecasts. Tool seller W.W. Grainger Inc. dropped $11.12, or 4 percent, to $245.54 after reporting income that also disappointed investors. Engine-maker Cummins Inc. fell $5.19, or 4 percent, to $126.88.

LOUSY WEEK: The Dow has fallen every day this week, leaving it down 2.8 percent. The S&P 500 had small gains Monday and Tuesday but is still down 1.8 percent since last Friday.

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