The S&P 500 declined Thursday as investors weighed mixed signals in the latest U.S. economic data and a stock-market pullback in China.
The number of Americans who applied for first-time unemployment benefits rose in the week ended Sept. 11 to 332,000, up from 312,000 in the week prior. Meanwhile, retail sales rose 0.7 percent in August, a sign of the economic recovery’s resilience despite the Delta variant. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected retail sales to decline.
The broad U.S. stock index dropped 0.4 percent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.2 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite fell 0.6 percent.
Major indexes have lost ground in September as investors worry that stocks may be due for a pullback after climbing throughout 2021. Analysts are also considering how the spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus could dampen the pace of economic growth.
The start to the U.S. trading session followed another day of losses in China and Hong Kong Thursday, where indexes were hit by gathering fears around an economic slowdown and debt problems with giant property developer China Evergrande Group.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 1.5 percent and China’s Shanghai Composite contracted 1.3 percent. Growth across a range of Chinese economic indicators pulled back sharply in August, as a new outbreak of the Covid-19 Delta variant and tighter government regulations on the property market hit consumer spending and the housing sector.
“Evergrande has brought forward that there are so many vulnerabilities in the China system and it’s hard to know where the Chinese government steps in,” said Seema Shah, chief strategist at Principal Global Investors. “There is that just weighing on confidence.”
In bond markets, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.346 percent Thursday from 1.302 percent Wednesday. Yields rise as prices fall. Among individual stocks, shares of DoorDash gained 6.3 percent after BofA Securities upgraded the stock to buy. Shares of Beyond Meat fell 4.9 percent after Piper Sandler downgraded the alternative-meat maker to an underweight rating.
Elsewhere, the Stoxx Europe 600 gained 0.6 percent. Shares of Lagardère surged 19 percent after media conglomerate Vivendi struck a deal to increase its stake in the French group, a move that opens the door to a full takeover. Wall Street Journal — Wires