Stocks Lower After China Sell-Off

Stocks Lower After China Sell-Off

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks were solidly lower in midday trading Monday, following a steep sell-off in China and other global markets.

Monday's losses are on top of declines in U.S. markets last week, when the three major indexes fell between 2 to 3 percent each.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 131 points, or 0.7 percent, to 17,438 as of 12:16 p.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost nine points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,071 and the Nasdaq composite lost 39 points, or 0.8 percent, to 5,050.

Faced with global declines in stock prices, investors moved into traditional safe havens. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell to 2.23 percent from 2.26 percent on Friday. Gold prices rose 1 percent to $1,096.30 an ounce. Dividend-heavy stocks, like utilities, also gained.

The main concern for stock investors was the precipitous 8.5 percentage point fall on the Shanghai market overnight, the biggest one-day decline since February 2007. It was the latest big drop in the Chinese stockmarket, which has slumped since early June.

Some analysts said Monday's dive was set off by brokerages restricting credit used to finance stockpurchases, also known as margin trading. Chinese authorities took aggressive steps to stabilize the market after it tumbled last month, wiping away about $3.2 trillion in market value. Analysts have been skeptical that such gravity-defying efforts could be sustained.

"The continuous check on margin trading by security companies has triggered today's sell-off," said Xu Xiaoyu, a market strategist at China Investment Securities. "In addition, the recent economic data shows it still takes time for the economy to recover from its sluggishness."

ASIA

The Shanghai benchmark had risen about 150 percent by the time it peaked in early June. The gains were originally driven by commentary in state media that called the stock market undervalued. That led investors to believe the government would ensure that stock prices gained. Many small investors jumped into the market near its peak and are now sitting on significant losses.

The Chinese sell-off ruffled other markets in Asia, though the scant amount of foreign investment in Chinese shares limits the ripple effects outside of Hong Kong, a semiautonomous Chinese territory that is also a financial center.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 3.1 percent and Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 1 percent. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.4 percent.

EUROPE

In Europe, there were also broad losses. Germany's DAX lost 2.3 percent, France's CAC-40 lost 2.2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 lost 1.1 percent.

Elsewhere, traders were turning their attention to the U.S. Federal Reserve as they try to assess when the central bank will start raising interest rates. The market appears split between those who think it will happen in September or December. The central bank will also meet this week, but few expect it to begin raising rates.

Traders also have the busiest week for second-quarter earnings reports this week, with 174 members of the S&P 500 as well as six members of the Dow average reporting their results.

BIG PHARMA GETS BIGGER

Generic drug giant Teva Pharmaceuticals jumped $7.53, or 12 percent, to $69.37 after it announced it would buy Allergan's generic drug division for $40.5 billion in cash and stock. Allergan's shares also rose, up $24.31, or 8 percent, to $332.56.

CURRENCIES AND COMMODITIES

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude was down 49 cents at $47.66 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, which is used to price international oils, was down 84 cents at $53.78 a barrel on the ICE future exchange in London.

In currency trading, the euro strengthened 0.9 percent to $1.1065 while the dollar fell 0.5 percent to 123.19 yen.

(KA)