Stock Market Today Reacts to China and Gold

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Disappointing news that China's economic growth slowed in the first quarter sent the stock market today (Monday) reeling.

Just before noon, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.61% to 14,773.75. The Standard and Poor's 500 Index slumped 0.75% to 1,576.87. The Nasdaq fell 0.80% to 3,268.45. Oil slipped 3.44% to $88 a barrel.

And the biggest loser of the day, gold plunged as much as 6.3%, hitting a low of $1,384.60.

Dragging stocks down was a report that China's economy grew at 7.7% in Q1, weaker than the 8% growth economists were expecting, and down from Q4's 7.9%. This rattled global markets, as fears spread that there would be continued lower demand for Chinese goods and services.

"The international situation continues to concern people, both in regard to Europe and China," John Carey, a fund manager for Pioneer Investment Management Inc., told Bloomberg News. "People are watching for some signs of improvement in both areas. Otherwise we're just in the early stages of earnings season, so people will have one eye on what's going on outside the U.S. and another close eye on what's happening with regard to earnings."

More than 75 members of the S&P 500 are scheduled to report earnings this week. Here are some to watch, along with the biggest headline makers in the stock market today.

Monday's News Makers

  • Citigroup Inc (NYSE: C) kicked off the busy earnings week with a 30% jump in net income to $3.8 billion, or $1.23 a share. Revenue was up 6%, to $20.5 billion, propelled by strength in investment banking. Shares rose 2.59% to $45.93.
  • The results topped estimates for both profit and revenue.

    "Achieving consistent, high quality earnings is one of my top priorities and these results are encouraging," CEO Mike Corbat said in a statement.

    Citi's shared have gained 30% since Corbat was named CEO in mid-October, replacing Vikram Pandit. Under Pandit's five-year reign, shares shed roughly 90% in value.

  • DISH Network Corp. (Nasdaq: DISH) made an unsolicited $25.5 billion bid for Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) sending shares of Sprint soaring 14% to $7.33, a 52-weeek high. If inked, the deal would combine one of the nation's biggest pay-TV providers with the third-largest wireless communications company. The deal is aimed at thwarting Sprint's plans to merge with Japan's Soft Bank in a prospered $20 billion deal. Dish's superior offer is $17.3 billion in cash and $8.2 billion in stock.
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE: TMO) won the auction for Life Technologies Corp. (Nasdaq: LIFE), paying $13.6 billion, or $76 a share, for the life sciences company. Competing for LIFE were investment firms Blackstone, Carlyle Group and KKR. Thermo shareholders applauded the win sending shares up 3.53% to $82.64, while LIFE jumped 7.66% to $73.24.

This Week's Stock Market: Earnings to Watch

Tuesday's Earnings

  • Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE: GS) is expected to earn $3.88 a share, down from $3.92 in the same quarter a year ago.
  • Yahoo! Inc (Nasdaq: Yahoo) is forecast to 0.24 in the latest quarter versus 23 in the same period a year earlier.
  • Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is projected to post $1.40 a share up from $1.37 from last year's quarter.
  • Intel Corp's (Nasdaq: INTC) estimates are for earnings of 41 cents, down from $1.37 in the same quarter a year ago.
  • The Coca-Cola Co.'s (NYSE: KO) earnings are expected to pop up a penny to 45 cents from last year's first-quarter gain of 44 cents.

Wednesday's Earnings

  • Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC) is seen posting earnings per share of 22 cents, two cents less than the same quarter a year ago.
  • eBay Inc (Nasdaq: EBAY) is forecast to report earnings of 62 cents versus 55 cents a year ago.

Thursday's Earnings

  • Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) is expected to earn $10.68, up from $10.08 in the same period a year earlier.
  • International Business Machines (NYSE: IBM) is seen earning $3.05 a share versus $2.87 in last year's quarter.
  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) is forecast to post earnings of 68 cents up from 60 cents in the same quarter a year ago.
  • Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) is estimated to have earned 57 cents down from 76 cents from last year's quarter.

Friday's Earnings

  • General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE) earnings are seen coming in at 34 cents, up a penny from the year ago quarter.
  • McDonald Corp.'s (NYSE: MCD) first quarter earnings estimates are for $1.27 a share compared to $1.23 a year earlier.

For a closer look at what's going on in the gold market, check out this report from our Global Resources Specialist Peter Krauth.

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