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US: Wall Street slides on China worries, earnings fears

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[NEW YORK] Wall Street swung to a loss on Monday as fears for the global economy dampened investor sentiment just as earnings season got under way.

The finish in the red marked a second consecutive negative close, the first such back-to-back losses for US stocks in 2019.

The benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.4 per cent to close at 23,909.85 while the broader S&P 500 lost 0.5 pe rcent, settling at 2,582.61.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell hardest, losing 0.9 per cent and closing at 6,905.92.

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Early Monday, Chinese trade data had underscored worries about a slowdown in the world's second biggest economy.

The country's exports fell 4.4 per cent in December from a year earlier, while imports dropped 7.6 per cent, reflecting sluggish demand at home and abroad.

"There is a concern that the global economy could slow down. The data for the last few months has supported the fact that the economy is slowing in China and around the globe," Adam Sarhan of 50 Park Investments told AFP.

"The global economy does well when China does well."

Sarhan added that the partial shutdown of the US government was also a worry for investors as it dragged into its fourth week.

"The stock market is concerned because eventually the shutdown will cause a significant slowdown on the economy," he said.

Meanwhile, Citigroup posted mixed results, with better-than-expected fourth-quarter earnings, in part due to lower expenses, but revenues that lagged expectations. One factor was a drop in Treasury bonds trading amid heavy market volatility.

Shares closed up sharply, adding nearly four percent.

Oil prices also dipped US$1.49 in New York, sending energy stocks lower. Exxon Mobil fell 0.2 per cent, while fellow supermajor Chevron fell 0.8 per cent.

AFP