Market Analysis

Beyond the Numbers

Disappointing Chinese Trade Data May Weigh On Wall Street
1/14/2019 8:56 AM

The major U.S. index futures are pointing to a lower opening on Monday, with stocks likely to come under pressure following the strong upward move seen last week.

Concerns about the global economic outlook are likely to lead to early weakness following the release of disappointing Chinese trade data.

Data from China’s General Administration of Customs showed exports tumbled by 4.4 percent year-over-year in December, reflecting the biggest drop in two years. Economists had expected exports to increase by 3 percent.

The report also said Chinese imports plunged by 7.6 percent in December compared to the same month a year ago, defying expectations for a 5 percent jump.

ING Greater China Economist Iris Pang said the contraction in Chinese imports and exports “is likely to continue into 2019 due to falling foreign demand, including demand for Chinese-made electronic products.”

A negative reaction to quarterly results from Citigroup (C) may also weigh on the markets, as the financial giant reported fourth quarter earnings that exceeded analyst estimates but on weaker than expected revenues.

Financial giants JPMorgan Chase (JPM), Wells Fargo (WFC), Bank of America (BAC), and Goldman Sachs (GS) are also due to report their quarterly results in the coming days.

After initially moving to the downside, stocks once again staged a recovery attempt over the course of the trading session on Friday. The major averages climbed well off worst levels of the day session but still closed slightly lower.

While the Nasdaq fell 14.59 points or 0.2 percent to 6,971.48, the Dow and the S&P 500 both edged down by less than a tenth of a percent. The Dow dipped 5.97 points to 23,995.95 and the S&P 500 slipped 0.38 points to 2,596.26.

Despite the modestly lower close on the day, the major averages moved significantly higher for the week. The Nasdaq surged up by 3.5 percent, while the Dow and the S&P 500 jumped by 2.4 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively.

The early weakness on Wall Street was partly due to profit taking, with traders cashing in on the gains seen over the five-session winning streak.

Concerns about the ongoing government shutdown and skepticism about a potential trade deal between the U.S. and China also weighed on the markets.

Selling pressure remained somewhat subdued, however, with recent upward momentum helping to limit the downside for the markets.

Traders seemed worried about missing out on further upside if the markets rebounded from the early pullback as they did in the previous session.

On the economic front, the Labor Department released a report showing a slight drop in consumer prices in the month of December.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index slipped by 0.1 percent in December after coming in unchanged in November. The slight drop in consumer prices matched economist estimates.

Energy prices showed another significant decrease during the month, plunging by 3.5 percent in December following a 2.2 percent slump in the previous month.

A steep drop in gasoline prices led the way lower, with gas prices plummeting by 7.5 percent in December after tumbling by 4.2 percent in November.

On the other hand, the report said food prices climbed by 0.4 percent in December, the largest increase since May of 2014. Prices for fruits and vegetables surged higher.

Excluding food and energy prices, the core consumer price index rose by 0.2 percent in December, matching the increases seen in the two previous months as well as expectations.

Higher prices for shelter, recreation, medical care, and household furnishings and operations more than offset lower prices for airline fares, used cars and trucks, and motor vehicle insurance.

The report said the annual rate of consume price growth slowed to 1.9 percent in December from 2.2 percent in November, while the annual rate of core consumer price growth was unchanged at 2.2 percent.

Most of the major sectors ended the day showing only modest moves, contributing to the lackluster close by the broader markets.

Tobacco stocks showed a substantial move to the upside, however, with the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index surging up by 2.6 percent. With the jump, the index reached its best closing level in almost a month.

Strength also emerged among semiconductor stocks, while oil service stocks climbed off their worst levels but still closed notably lower.

Commodity, Currency Markets

Crude oil futures are falling $0.70 to $50.89 a barrel after sliding $1 to $51.59 a barrel last Friday. Meanwhile, an ounce of gold is trading at $1,290.80, up $1.30 from the previous session’s close of $1,289.50. On Friday, gold rose $2.10.

On the currency front, the U.S. dollar is trading at 108.20 yen compared to the 108.48 yen it fetched at the close of New York trading on Friday. Against the euro, the dollar is valued at $1.1457 compared to last Friday’s $1.1469.


Asian stocks fell broadly on Monday as an unexpected drop in Chinese exports and concerns surrounding the ongoing U.S. government shutdown and the vote on Brexit this week kept investors on the sidelines. The Japanese markets were closed for the 'Coming of Age Day' holiday.

Investors also awaited cues from the U.S. earnings season, with several banks set to unveil their quarterly results this week.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 18.07 points or 0.7 percent to 2,535.77, as the latest trade data indicated a further slowdown in the world's second-largest economy. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged 368.94 points or 1.4 percent to 26,298.33.

Chinese exports unexpectedly fell 4.4 percent from a year earlier December, the biggest drop in two years. Imports also fell 7.6 percent, marking the biggest decline since July of 2016.

Australian stocks gave up early gains to end roughly flat as the weak Chinese trade figures sparked fresh worries over the fallout from the U.S.-China trade war. Both the S&P/ASX 200 Index and the broader All Ordinaries Index finished marginally lower at 5,773.40 and 5,833.20, respectively.

Retail conglomerate Wesfarmers fell 2.2 percent after warning that its discount department stores had slower than expected sales over Christmas.

Energy stocks such as Origin Energy and Oil Search dropped around 1 percent as oil prices fell for a second straight session. Mining giants BHP and Rio Tinto fell slightly, while the big four banks rose around half a percent.

Retail Food Group soared 15.3 percent on news it is considering selling assets to pay down debt.

South Korean stocks closed lower as the partial U.S. government shutdown entered its fourth week with no end in sight. The benchmark Kospi ended down 11.05 points or 0.5 percent at 2.064.52.

Technology stocks led the declines, with Samsung Electronics losing 1.1 percent and chipmaker SK Hynix ending down 4.6 percent.


European stocks have fallen on Monday as an unexpected decrease in Chinese exports and concerns surrounding the ongoing U.S. government shutdown kept investors on the sidelines.

Chinese exports and imports declined at the worst rates in two years in December, raising fresh concerns about global growth. Brexit concerns also lingered ahead of Tuesday's key Commons vote.

While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has slumped by 1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index and the German DAX Index are down by 0.7 percent and 0.6 percent, respectively.

Denmark's Pandora has moved sharply lower on the day after Morgan Stanley slashed its price target for the jewelry retailer.

Italian oil and gas company Eni has also dropped. The company and Oman Oil Company Exploration and Production have entered into an Exploration and Production Sharing Agreement for Block 47 with the government of the Sultanate of Oman.

Ophir Energy has also fallen after it rejected a potential buyout offer from Indonesian oil and gas group Medco Energi Internasional.

Acacia Mining has also moved to the downside after reporting a 12 percent decline in fourth quarter gold production.

On the other hand, JD Sports has moved sharply higher. In its update following the Christmas period, the retailer of sport, fashion and outdoor brands said it is confident that its headline profit before tax for the full year ended February 2, 2019 will be at the upper end of published market expectations.

Dialog Semiconductor has also rallied in Frankfurt. The company reported fourth quarter revenue of $431 million, within the October guidance range.

U.S. Economic Reports

No major U.S. economic reports are scheduled to be released today.

Stocks In Focus

Shares of PG&E Corp. (PCG) are moving sharply lower in pre-market trading after the utility said it plans to file for bankruptcy due to potential liabilities resulting from the 2017 and 2018 Northern California wildfires.

Hard drive maker Western Digital (WDC) may also move to the downside after Evercore ISI downgraded its rating on the company’s stock to Underperform from In Line

On the other hand, shares of Goldcorp (GG) are moving significantly higher in pre-market trading after the gold producer agreed to be acquired by Newmont Mining (NEM) in a stock-for-stock transaction valued at $10 billion.

Snapchat parent Snap Inc. (SNAP) may also see initial strength after Citigroup upgraded its rating on the company’s stock to Neutral from Sell.
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