Market Wrap: Wall Street Ends Down on Global Growth Worries

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Richard Drew/AP
By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK -- U.S. stocks fell for a fourth day Wednesday as a World Bank forecast fueled concerns about global economic weakness and copper prices sank, although a late-day rebound in energy shares left the market well off its lows after a volatile session.

The S&P energy index ended up 0.1 percent after falling as much as 2.6 percent. It rebounded late in the day as oil prices jumped by the most in more than two years ahead of options expiration. Crude oil prices remained near six-year lows despite the day's jump, however.

S&P 500 materials and financial sectors were the day's worst performers, both falling more than 1 percent.

%VIRTUAL-pullquote-With an earnings season just getting started, there's a lot of nervousness, given we've had six years of up markets.%The price of copper, a key industrial metal, touched its lowest in five and a half years, weighing on shares of producers, after the World Bank cut its economic growth forecasts for this year and next.

Adding to investor concerns, U.S. retail sales registered their biggest drop in 11 months in December The S&P retail index fell 0.8 percent.

"You look at the obliteration in oil, copper ... there are a lot of questions about worldwide demand and growth," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

"With an earnings season just getting started, there's a lot of nervousness, given we've had six years of up markets. Are we due for a down market?"

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) fell 186.59 points, or 1.06 percent, to 17,427.09, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) lost 11.76 points, or 0.58 percent, to 2,011.27 and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 22.18 points, or 0.48 percent, to 4,639.32.

U.S. crude oil settled up 5.6 percent and Brent ended up 4.5 percent, snapping a four-day slide.

The S&P 500 briefly broke below its 120-day moving average, a technical support level, and hit a new low for the year at 1,988.44. S&P e-minis also broke support and hit an intraday low for the year.

The S&P 500 is now 3.8 percent below the record high reached on Dec. 29.

Shares of copper producer Freeport McMoRan (FCX) tumbled for a second day. Shares ended down 10.9 percent at $18.74 and the stock was the S&P 500's biggest percentage decliner.

Expectations for U.S. fourth-quarter earnings have fallen sharply in recent months, with growth now estimated at just 3.6 percent compared with an Oct. 1 estimate for 11.2 percent, according to Thomson Reuters data.

JPMorgan Chase (JPM), the biggest U.S. bank by assets, ended down 3.5 percent at $56.81 after reporting a 6.6 percent drop in quarterly profit. Wells Fargo (WFC) shed 1.2 percent to $51.25 after posting quarterly results.

A large trade in the options on the S&P 500's tracking ETF suggested positioning for a further decline in the market within the next week and a half. A trader paid $1.23 a contract for 43,830 SPY puts at the $195 strike price, which corresponds to the 1,950 level on the S&P 500.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,856 to 1,238, for a 1.50-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,743 issues fell and 994 advanced for a 1.75-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.

The benchmark S&P 500 index posted 13 new 52-week highs and 29 new lows; the Nasdaq composite recorded 39 new highs and 130 new lows.

About 8.1 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, compared with the 7.1 billion average for the last five sessions, according to data from BATS Global Markets.

-With additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak and Saqib Iqbal Ahmed.

What to watch Thursday:
  • At 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, the Labor Department releases the Producer Price Index for December and reports weekly jobless claims; the Federal Reserve Bank of New York releases its survey of manufacturing conditions in New York state.
  • At 10 a.m., the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia releases its survey of business conditions in the Mid-Atlantic region.
These selected companies are scheduled to release quarterly financial results:
  • Bank of America (BAC)
  • Citigroup (C)
  • Fastenal (FAST)
  • Intel (INTC)
  • Lennar (LEN)
  • PPG Industries (PPG)
  • Schlumberger (SLB)
The 7 Best Things to Buy in January
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Market Wrap: Wall Street Ends Down on Global Growth Worries

At the end of December, gyms are mostly empty. The beginning of January turns gyms into madhouses. While it may seem smart for gyms to hike prices in the new year, they do the opposite to persuade you to join their facility versus their competitors'. In fact, says that membership fees waived by gyms in January can save you over $100.

On that same note, January is an excellent month to purchase those yoga mats, ellipticals, DVDs, treadmills, dumbbells, workout apparel and anything else that will help kick you into shape. These fitness necessities are often marked up to 70 percent off the retail price both online and in stores. Also, check out deal websites such as Groupon and Living Social for an uptick in fitness-related steals throughout January, and head to resale shops for gently used fitness equipment, especially toward the end of the month when people donate their old stuff to make room for new goods.

January is arguably the best month to buy winter clothing. For starters, retailers gear up to showcase spring apparel and, to help move product, they drop prices on those cable-knit sweaters, denim goods, scarves, boots, coats and more. Secondly, January is an excellent month to buy winter apparel because you still get plenty of wear out of whatever you buy. Note that the further into January we go, the deeper the discounts.

OK, so you don't actually buy credit cards, but you can certainly apply for a new one. In the spirit of new year's resolutions, which often include battling debt, we suggest taking advantage of the many credit card promotions this month. For example, numerous credit cards offer 0 percent annual percentage rate on balance transfers this time of year, providing you with six months to a year of interest-free debt repayment. If you have a high-interest credit card, consider transferring the balance and paying it down aggressively. Other credit card promotions include an increase in cash back and bonus miles.

Yep, it's tax season. While the thought is sure to induce a few groans, know that there are at least a few deals to be had along the way. In January through late March, you can find tax filing software for up to 50 percent off the retail price. In-person tax filing services also hold promotions, so look out for specials. We suggest signing up for emails or joining social media pages to stay in the loop on all the above.

If you have any plans to make over your home in the near future, now's the perfect time to pounce. Big retailers -- including Target (TGT), Home Depot (HD), Crate & Barrel, Sears (SHLD) and JCPenney (JCP) -- heavily discount their furniture and home goods collections in January, says The website says you can "expect to see furniture clearance sales that take between 40 percent to 75 percent off regular prices."

Philadelphia department store owner John Wannamaker started the white sale tradition in 1878 (adapted from those fashionable French). He recognized that sales dried up after the holidays and that people just didn't get out of the house and buy much during the dreary, cold months. So he ran white sales, named after the pristine snow and the products discounted. These white sales still take place to this day. Expect to find sheets, towels, curtains, napkins, and more for between 30 percent and 60 percent off the retail price.

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