Another Sign of Weakness In China Weighs on U.S. Stocks

NEW YORK (AP) -

Stocks took small losses Monday after China reported a drop in exports in December, but the market didn’t come close to matching the plunges it took in the last few months.

Indexes in Europe and Asia headed slightly lower after the latest report added more evidence that China’s economy is weakening. Major U.S. indexes fell about 1 percent at the start of trading, but soon recovered much of what they’d lost. Technology companies slumped.

Drugmakers fell after Democrats in the House of Representatives announced an investigation into prescription drug pricing. A strong quarterly report from Citigroup helped bank stocks trade higher.

China’s exports slipped in December, and exports to the U.S. fell 3.5 percent as rising tariffs and broader weakness affected the world’s second-largest economy. Concerns about the Chinese economy and the overall global economy were a major contributor to the market’s plunge in late 2018.

On Monday the S&P 500 fell 13.65 points, or 0.5 percent, to 2,582.61. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 230 points Monday morning, but finished with a loss of 86.11 points, or 0.4 percent, to 23,909.84.

The Nasdaq composite retreated 65.56 points, or 0.9 percent, to 6,905.92. The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks shed 14.57 points, or 1 percent, to 1,432.81.

The stock market’s recent rally suggests investors aren’t quite as worried about the global economy or the state of trade talks. They still took a cautious approach to technology companies. Apple lost 1.5 percent to $150. The company’s shares tumbled last month after it said sales in China were falling. Chipmaker Texas Instruments lost 2.3 percent to $96.33.

A leading House Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings, announced a sweeping investigation of the pharmaceutical industry’s pricing practices for drugs used to treat conditions including cancer, diabetes, kidney failure and nerve pain.

The Trump administration is pursuing its own plan to lower drug prices by approving more generic medications.

AbbVie fell 2.8 percent to $84.76 while Merck lost 2 percent to $73.37.

Citigroup and other banks stood out. Citi said its earnings rose in the last three months of 2018, helped by a lower tax rate and lower expenses. Its stock gained 4 percent to $58.93.

The FTSE 100 index fell 0.9 percent and the pound rose to $1.2865 from $1.2845.

Investors also reacted to deal talks. Newmont Mining will buy Canada’s Goldcorp for $10 billion, creating the world’s biggest gold miner as gold becomes more expensive to procure. Goldcorp rallied 7.1 percent to $10.38 while Newmont fell 8.9 percent to $31.78.

Gannett, publisher of USA Today, rocketed 21.2 percent to $11.82 after Digital First Media offered to buy the company for $1.36 billion.

Bond prices turned lower. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.71 percent from 2.69 percent.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil gave up 2.1 percent to $50.51 per barrel in New York; Brent crude, the international standard, fell 2.5 percent to $58.99 per barrel in London.

Natural gas jumped 15.9 percent to $3.59 per 1,000 cubic feet. Wholesale gasoline fell 2.6 percent to $1.36 a gallon and heating oil lost 1.4 percent to $1.85 a gallon.