Wall Street looked set to start 2016 on a dour note after weak Chinese economic data reignited fears about continued global growth and sparked a selloff in stock markets across the world.
Mainland Chinese shares fell 7 percent on Monday, triggering a new circuit breaker that prompted a trading halt, after surveys showed factory activity at the world’s second-largest economy shrank sharply in December.
Adding to the investors’ worries, China’s central bank fixed the yuan at a 4-1/2 year low.
“Those are violent [beginning of the year] fireworks. That’s quite a way to start the day off,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital LLC in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
“Right now, the focal point is China, the global economic condition, and the fact that we’re coming off a disappointing year on many levels, a frustrating year on many levels, only to walk in and have the (S&P) futures down 35 points,” he said.
At 8:52 a.m. EST, Dow e-minis were down 323 points, or 1.86 percent, with 54,715 contracts changing hands. S&P 500 e-minis were down 37 points, or 1.82 percent, with 318,007 contracts traded. Nasdaq 100 e-minis were down 98 points, or 2.14 percent, on volume of 60,473 contracts.
Crude oil prices rose after a breakdown in diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran raised concerns of supply restrictions, while gold jumped more than 1 percent as investors fled to the safe-haven metal.
U.S. stocks closed lower on Thursday, with the S&P 500 logging a marginal loss for the year.
The index of national factory activity is expected to have risen in December, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The data is due at 10:00 a.m. EST.
Apple was down 2 percent at $103.16. The iPhone maker’s stock closed 2015 down more than 4 percent.