Boston blasts, China date rock US stocks

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Deadly explosions in Boston and disappointing China economic growth rocked US stocks Monday, sending the broad-market S&P 500 down more than 2.0 percent.

Amid sharp sell-offs in commodities like oil and gold, the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 265.86 points (1.79 percent) to 14,599.20.

The S&P 500 index dropped 36.49 (2.30 percent) to 1,552.36, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite shed 30.64 (1.94 percent at 1,546.58.

At least two people were killed and 22 wounded when two explosions struck near the finish line of the Boston Marathon about an hour before the markets closed.

“Sellers reacted to the news by pushing equities to fresh lows,” analysts said.

The S&P 500 shed about 14 points of its 36.50-point dive, or 38 percent of the day's loss, following the blasts.

But Wall Street was already under pressure from the opening bell after China reported gross domestic product growth slowed to 7.7 percent in the first quarter of this year from 7.9 percent in the prior quarter.

That was well below analyst expectations of around 8.0 percent, and renewed concerns about a slowdown in the global economic engine.

US data showing a larger-than-expected slowdown in New York state manufacturing in April and a drop in confidence of homebuilders added to growth concerns.

“The early indications are that April economic data remain soggy relative to a disappointing March,” said Deutsche Bank analysts in a research note.

Citigroup’s quarterly earnings gains and two big M&A announcements -- DISH Network’s $25.5 billion bid for Sprint Nextel and Thermo Fisher’s $13.6 billion takeover of genetic sequencing powerhouse Life Technologies -- failed to sway sellers.

Citigroup edged up 0.2 percent after its first-quarter earnings bested analyst forecasts.

Satellite-television provider DISH Network dropped 2.3 percent after proposing a $25.5 billion merger with wireless carrier Sprint, up 13.5 percent.

US laboratory equipment maker Thermo Fisher Scientific fell 1.3 percent after announcing its $13.6 billion bid to acquire biotech firm Life Technologies. Life Tech gained 7.5 percent.

Gold equities were in retreat after gold prices continued to plummet. Goldcorp and Newmont Mining both sank 6.7 percent, and Barrick Gold dived 12.6 percent.

Another $2-plus fall in oil prices sent energy share sinking. ConocoPhillips lost 3.6 percent, Chevron gave back 2.8 percent and ExxonMobil slid 2.8 percent.

Bond prices gained. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.70 percent from 1.72 percent late Friday, while the 30-year yield dropped to 2.88 percent from 2.92 percent. Bond prices move inversely to yields.

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