US closed lower on Monday as investors grew bearish on the outlook for earnings season, which started this week.
After an expansion of profit during the first three quarters of last year, growth is expected \to be harder to achieve in 2019, according to equity strategists.
Also weighing on stocks was a Chinese report that said exports contracted the most in two years.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 86.11 points, or 0.4%, to 23,909.84. The Nasdaq was down 0.9% to 6,905.92.
The data storage company Western Digital Corp (NASDAQ:WDC) was the biggest loser on the Nasdaq, falling 4.9% to $38.06 after Evercore ISI Research downgraded the stock to Underperform and pared its price target to $30 per share from $35.
Citigroup Inc (NYSE:C) rallied 4% to $58.93 after reporting earnings that beat the estimates of analysts. It had fallen in premarket trading on revenue that trailed Wall Street forecasts.
The broader-based S&P 500 declined 0.5% to 2,582.61, while the Russell 2000 index of small-caps sank 1% to 1,432.81.
PG&E Corp (NYSE:PCG) plunged more than 50% to $8.38 after saying it planned to seek bankruptcy protection following the devastating California wildfiles.
Bucking the negative trend, in Canada, Toronto’s TSX added 0.2% to 14,975.53.
13:30 AM: READ: Wall Street trades lower as concerns mount about quarterly earnings
US stocks continued to trade lower in afternoon trade on Monday as investors grew bearish on the outlook for earnings season which kicked off this week.
Despite the expansion of profits over the course of last year’s first three quarters, growth in earnings is expected to be more difficult to find in 2019, according to equity strategists.
As the afternoon trading session gathered pace, the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index fell 71 points to hit 23,924, with the pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co Inc (NYSE:MRK) performing worst on the blue-chip index, with a 2% fall to $73.37.
The tech-laden Nasdaq also fell 0.55% to 6,933, weighed down by the data storage company Western Digital Corp (NASDAQ:WDC), which was off 5.6% after a research analyst at Evercore ISI downgraded the stock to Underperform and pared back his price target to $30 per share from $35.
Wynn Resorts Ltd (NASDAQ:WYNN), which was off 5.1%, Take-Two Interactive Software Inc (NASDAQ:TTWO), which fell 4.1%, and JD.com (NASDAQ:JD), which shed 3.8%, were also instrumental in dragging the Nasdaq backwards.
Elsewhere, the S&P 500 index lost 7.8 points to trade at 2,588 while the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks shed 5.5 points to hit 1,441.
Bucking the negative trend, in Canada, Toronto’s TSX added 35 points to hit 14,974.
10:00 AM: US stocks fall amid weak Chinese trade data, earnings concerns
US stocks opened lower Monday as weak trade data from China added yet another level of concern over the health of the world's second-largest economy and a slew of corporate earnings consumed Wall Street’s attention.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 103 points, or 0.46% to 23,892.51 with 28 of 30 Dow components declining. Citi was down initially after surprise fall in quarterly revenue but recovered briskly after the market opened.
Meanwhile, the S&P 500 opened lower by 0.52% to 2,582.66 dragged lower by PG&E Corp, owner of the biggest US power utility by number of customers, which prepares bankruptcy filing after California wildfires.
Elsewhere, the Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks fell 0.63% to 1,438.21.
7:16 am: US stocks seen starting the week lower as government shutdown continues; European benchmarks lower
US stocks are seen starting sharply lower after the weekend as traders await earnings, mull over the latest Chinese economic data, and the government shutdown continues to be the longest on record.
Wall Street shares closed Friday lower and are set to see red this morning. European benchmarks are also trading lower at the time of writing.
Export data showed that the value of goods shipped from China to the rest of the world fell by more than 4% last month (December) versus a year ago - the worst monthly performance for the sector in more than two years.
But for the second year in a row, in 2018, the People's Republic posted a record trade surplus with the US, with which it is locked in a trade war.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down nearly six on Friday at 23,995, while the Nasdaq shed nearly 15 at 6,971. The broader-based S&P 500 was near flat at 2,596.
In Toronto, on Friday, the TSX added almost 36 points at 14,939.
In London, the FTSE 100 is down around 73 points as Brexit continues to dominate the newswires; the German DAX is also down around 73 and the French CAC 40 is around 40 points in the red.
In futures trade Monday, the Dow Jones is down 210 points; the Nasdaq is off 76 points and the S&P 500 futures are down around 23.
In Asia overnight, the Shanghai Composite Index lost around 18 points at 2,535 and Japan's Nikkei 225 gained nearly 196 at 20,359.
James Hughes, market analyst at London based Axitrader, said: "Economic data is looking incredibly limited for the day ahead, although earnings season continues to gain momentum so this could provide some fresh insight as to the health of corporate America.
"Citigroup headlines before the opening bell today, but with a string of companies already cautioning over performance, expectations in general will be weighted to the downside.
"Beyond this is the ongoing shut down of the US government owing to the standoff regarding Trump’s ambition to build a wall between the US and Mexico.
"With the closure now the longest on record and Federal employees having gone without receiving paycheques on Friday, this will be starting to bite into the economy.
"Some estimates suggest the shutdown is costing around $1.2 billion a week, so the total so far is already closing in on the cost of building the wall."