This story was updated at 4:15 p.m. EST.
U.S. stocks closed lower Monday as concerns over a global lowdown and mixed U.S. economic data is giving investors the jitters. Investors pares some of the Dow’s losses in afternoon trading as they look to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen’s two day's of congressional testimony starting Wednesday for further clues about the timing of the next interest rate hike.
Yellen’s testimony and Friday’s report on lower-than-expected hiring comes amid a decline in corporate earnings at the end of 2015 and concern about global economic conditions, including a China slowdown and mounting emerging market debt.
The U.S. benchmark oil price dipped below $30 a barrel before recovering slighly on Monday while gold and U.S. 10-year Treasurys indicated momentum toward so-called safe-harbor investments used when investors are concerned about stocks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX:.DJI) closed down 180.97 points Monday, or 1.12 percent, to 16,024. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index (INDEXSP:.INX) lost 26.61 points, or 1.42 percent, to 1,853.44. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) shed 79.39 points, or 1.82, to 4,283.75.
“Global headwinds and low oil prices are indeed blowing on certain sectors, but overall the economy remains on solid footing,” Gregory Daco, head of U.S. macroeconomics at Oxford Economics, said in a note Friday after the U.S. reported a drop in the unemployment rate but also a considerable slowdown in hiring in January—giving a little for both rate-hike bulls and bears.
“Those still bent on raising the Fed Funds Rate sooner rather than later could point to a lower headline unemployment rate, and actual, considerable wage growth. Those thinking that the Fed must hold off due to all of the weakening macro, saw exactly that in this report,” Stephen Guilfoyle, Deep Value Execution Services’ managing director of floor operations at the New York Stock Exchange, said in his daily email note Monday morning.
All 10 S&P 500 sectors were down Monday led by financials and materials stocks. Energy stocks hovered in positive territoiry before ending the day down.
Visa Inc. (NYSE:V), Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (NYSE:GS) and Home Depot Inc. (NYSE:HD) were weighing the most on the Dow index on Monday. Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), Procter & Gamble Co. (NYSE:PG) and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) led Dow gains.
The yield on the benchmark U.S. 10-year Treasury fell to 1.74 percent, closing at their lowest level since Jan. 30, 2015. The bond yield, which moves in the opposite direction of its price, typically falls when investors are less confident about equity markets. Gold, another so-called safe-harbor investment, gained 2.84 percent to $1,190.60 per troy ounce on Tuesday, its highest level in nearly three months. Gold prices tend to rise as confidence in markets falls.
Crude prices dropped after a meeting between OPEC member Venezuela and Saudi Arabia ended on Sunday with little progress on efforts to stabilize prices. Morgan Stanley warned Monday in a research note that the global oversupply in oil would not start to diminish before 2017.
After dipping briefly below $30 Monday morning, West Texas Intermediate, the U.S. benchmark for crude, was down 2.59 percent to $30.09 per barrel for March delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the major global benchmark, lost 3.14 percent to $32.99 for April delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
European closed sharply in the red Monday with the Frankfurt DAX down 3.3 percent and the Paris CAC down 3.2 percent. London’s FTSE was headed to a similar close on Monday, shedding 2.7 percent in late afternoon trading. The broad Stoxx Europe 600 index closed down 3.5 percent.
Asian stocks welcomed the year of the monkey on a higher note as the Tokyo’s Nikkei erased a four-day losing streak. Most Asian markets were closed Monday for the Lunar New Year Holidays. China’s mainland and Taiwan’s markets will be closed all week while other regional markets, including Hong Kong’s, were closed Monday. Japan’s Nikkei closed up 184.71 points, or 1.10 percent.
Stock in Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE:CHK) plunged 50 percent Monday morning after reports the nation’s second-largest natural gas producer has hired lawyers to assist in restructuring the company.
Rhode Island-based Hasbro Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS) shares climbed after the world’s third-largest toymaker (after Mattel and Lego) reported better than expected earnings for the fourth quarter of 2015 and raised its dividend.
Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp. (NASDAQ:CTSH) shares dropped after the New Jersey-based IT services firm, and one of the biggest utilizers of the U.S. H-1 visa for temporary guest workers, reported a miss in its fourth quarter earnings released Monday. A slowdown in corporate IT services demand and higher visa fees will likely impact the company this year.
Shares in Arizona-based Apollo Education Group Inc. (NASDAQ:APOL), which owns the University of Phoenix and other for-profit educational institutions, jumped after news emerged a group of investors would take the company private.