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.
Five Reasons U.S. Economy Bears Have Turned Bullish
Recent data has silenced some of the loudest U.S. economy bears.
According to a new Bloomberg survey of 69 economists, gross domestic product likely grew at a 3% annualized clip in Q1. That compares with the 2% pace forecast in March and 1.6% in December.
Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS) Chief U.S. Economist Vincent Reinhart went from an estimate of 0.8% in December to 3%. Brain Kasman of JPMorgan & Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) upped his projection from 1% to 3.3%.
"We are surprised that there wasn't a bigger and more immediate hit to spending" by consumers, Reinhart told Bloomberg. "There is an underlying momentum in spending, which means that sequestration and the tax increase will only lead to a monetary pause."
Kasman shared that sentiment when he said on an April 5 conference call, "What happened at the beginning of the year was a genuine surprise in terms of how well the economy held up."
Expansion is expected to slow to 1.5% in the current quarter before picking up to an average 2.4% over the second half of 2013.
Here are five reasons these economists have raised their growth targets.
U.S. Economy: These Jobs Numbers Point to Slower Growth in Q2
Anyone hoping the U S. economy in 2013 would gain strength from job growth needs to check out Wednesday's ADP National Employment Report.
According to ADP, the U.S. economy added 158,000 private-sector jobs in March, well below projections of 200,000 - 215,000. That's the smallest gain since October when companies hired just 148,000.
March's lackluster showing was mainly due to lower job creation in construction. The industry enjoyed robust hiring in the months following late October's Hurricane Sandy. In its wake, the superstorm left behind upwards of $50 billion in damages.
A tepid recovery in the housing market in Q1 also helped the sector in January, with recent monthly gains in construction averaging 35,000.
In March, however, no new construction jobs were added.
"If that's the case, underlying job growth is not changed appreciably," Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi told Reuters. He estimates overall employment growth is running near 175,000 a month.
March's jobs report included a revised 237,000 gain for February from the previously reported 198,000. But January's numbers were revised down to 177,000 from 215,000.
So what does this mean for Friday's U.S. jobs report?
Stock Market: Q1 Was One for the Record Books, So What's Next?
The U.S. stock market logged an impressive first quarter.
Shrugging off budget cuts, tax hikes, and more Eurozone misery, U.S. stocks climbed to record territory on several occasions.
On March 5, the Dow broke through its record close of 14,165, previously hit Oct. 9, 2007. Meanwhile, the S&P has been flirting with its 1,565 record high for weeks.
The most recent milestones came Thursday when the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at yet another record, and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index finally closed above its all-time high.
Thursday closed out Q1 with the Dow adding 52.38 points, or 0.36%, to close at 14,578.54. The S&P tacked on 6.34, or 0.41%, to close at 1,569.19.
Here's a look at the quarter's biggest gains and losses, as well as what investors should do now as we head into April.
With Another Stock Market Record in Reach, Here's What to Do Now
It's time for some insight.
I'm constantly asked where I think the stock market is going next. Since the Dow recently reached new highs and the S&P 500 is pushing its old October 2007 highs, it's no wonder that's the question on everyone's mind and lips.
My answer is: I don't know where it's going. But I do know what to do about it.
Here's the thing...
How the Stock Market Today Digested Cyprus News
Worries over the plan to force bank depositors in Cyprus to help fund a $13 billion international bailout rattled global equities and sent the U.S. stock market today (Monday) lower.
Right after the open, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index and the Nasdaq were all sharply lower.
By mid-afternoon, all three indexes remained in negative territory with the Dow down 4.76, or .03% at 14,509.03; the S&P down 2.97, or 0.17%, at 1,557. 73, and the Nasdaq down 2.11, or 0.11%, at 3,247.
Sending global markets lower Monday was the unprecedented agreement reached this weekend over Cyprus' bailout plan.
The proposed plan - by representatives of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and Eurozone's finance ministers - includes taxing deposits over 100,000 euros ($128,950) at 9.9%, while those with less than that amount would be subject to a 6.75% levy.
The aim is to raise 5.8 billion euros ($7.52 billion) that would go toward the $13 billion international bailout of the country.
Why this Ivy League Professor Sees Dow Hitting 18,000
The bears predicting a stock market crash have it all wrong.
So says Jeremy Siegel, finance professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and author of "Stocks for the Long Run." He predicts the Dow - which closed yesterday (Wednesday) at a new record high 14,455.28 - will continue the bull market run, ending this year in the 16,000 to 17,000 range.
For 2014, he says, the "best bet goal" is the Dow will climb to 18,000.
And the well-known bull has nearly 150 years of data to back up his bold prediction.
Here's why Siegel is so bullish.
The FBI and the SEC Are Cracking Down on People Just Like You
Some people will do anything to make money in the market.
Believe it or not, folks have even resorted to manipulating stocks to fatten their wallets.
And, crazy as this sounds, there are more people doing it than anyone imagined.
Now, I know you'd never do that. But the SEC isn't so sure. Neither is the FBI.
According to yesterday's Financial Times (the pink paper that some financial types read), the FBI is joining forces with the SEC in order to "tackle the potential threat of market manipulation... that [has] taken markets beyond the scope of traditional policing."
What's hilarious to me is that, before the FBI goes looking for market manipulators (like you) along with the SEC, it should be looking at the SEC!
But I digress...
Why Recession 2013 Has Already Begun and What to Do About It
Pay no attention to the new market highs or the cheerleading of government officials - recession 2013 is already here.
That's what Lakshman Achuthan, co-founder and chief operations officer for the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI), is saying now.
Achuthan told the Daily Ticker that ECRI believes the U.S. economy has been mired in a "mild recession" since the middle of last year.
And yes, he insists that recession 2013 is already underway despite record highs for the stock market and an obvious lack of the most widely accepted definition of a recession - two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP).
"What we see here ... are the hallmarks of a recession," Achuthan wrote in a report on the ECRI Web site. "Separately, we are not seeing signs of an imminent growth upturn that so many claim to see."
Dow Hits Record High – What Does That Say About the U.S. Economy?
Equity market cheerleaders got very excited about the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting a new record high yesterday (Tuesday).
The Dow closed at 14,253.77, topping its previous record close of 14,164.53 on Oct. 9, 2007.
While it is nice to see a sign that equities are improving following the devastating shock of the financial crisis of 2008, today's Dow Jones Industrial Average is not the same index as it was in 2007.
In fact, if we look back at when the Dow Jones Industrial Average last exceeded 14,000, we'll see that the Dow seems to have less of a connection now to what is really happening in the economy than it did in 2007.