Wall Street dips as oil falls, China data disappoints

March 8, 2016 02:27 PM

Wall Street was lower on Tuesday as oil prices slipped and weak Chinese data rekindled fears of a global economic slowdown led by the world's second-biggest economy.

China's February trade performance was far worse than economists had expected, with exports tumbling the most in over six years. The report weighed on markets worldwide.

U.S. crude fell nearly 3 percent, while Brent was off more than 2 percent, as major oil producers sparred over a potential output freeze. 

"The data this morning has dampened sentiment more so than anything else at this point in terms of confirming some of the concerns regarding growth in China," said Ryan Larson, head of U.S. equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management in Chicago.

"Equities, at least in the United States, are somewhat taking their cues from oil pulling back slightly," Larson said.

Oil has made a strong recovery from its January lows, but Goldman Sachs analysts on Tuesday warned that the recent rally was premature as prices would need to remain lower to help rebalance the market later in the year.

The S&P energy sector led six of the 10 major S&P sectors that were lower, with a 3.2 percent decline. Gains in consumer discretionary stocks helped the three indexes claw back some losses.

At 12:26 p.m. ET (1726 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 32.15 points, or 0.19 percent, at 17,041.8.

The S&P 500 was down 9.4 points, or 0.47 percent, at 1,992.36. The index was set to snap a five-day streak of gains not seen since October.

The Nasdaq Composite index was down 18.61 points, or 0.4 percent, at 4,689.64.

Investors are also focusing on data for clues on the state of the global economy and monetary policies of central banks across the world.

The European Central Bank is expected to announce further stimulus at its meeting later this week.

In contrast, the U.S. Federal Reserve is looking to raise interest rates this year as a raft of data suggested the economic recovery in the United States was gaining momentum.

Shares of Urban Outfitters were up 16.9 percent at $32.91, after the company reported better-than-expected sales for its bohemian-inspired Free People brand.

Shake Shack shed 11 percent, falling to $37.56 after the burger chain issued disappointing results and forecast.

AutoNation was down 6 percent at $49.71 after Goldman Sachs cut its rating on the stock to "sell".

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,149 to 792. On the Nasdaq, 1,912 issues fell and 798 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed 18 new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 25 new highs and 27 lows.

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Abhiram Nandakumar, Reuters