U.S. stock market opened down this morning, and has been moving progressively lower ever since. The Dow, the S&P, and the NASDAQ are all down more than 1.5% for the session so far. Declining issues are swamping advancers by about 10-to-1, which suggests significant weakness. Moreover, there are now 100 stocks hitting new highs on the NYSE, versus 140 issues hitting new lows. This stands in sharp contrast to the figures posted a while back, and likely suggests that the market has been pulling back. All of the market sectors are in negative territory today. There is considerable weakness in the basic materials group. Metals stocks are getting hit hard, with sharp losses in big cap leaders Freeport-McMoRan (FCX) and Southern Copper (SCCO). Some precious metals issues are also coming under pressure, with Silver Wheaton (SLW) off sharply. The move in these stocks likely reflects lower commodity prices. Both oil and gold futures are down today, due to fears about slower growth in Asia. The energy sector is among the big losers for similar reasons. Shares of Exxon Mobil (XOM - Free Exxon Mobil Stock Report) and Chevron (CVX - Free Chevron Stock Report) are trading down. Although the healthcare sector is in negative territory with the rest of the market, it is showing somewhat better relative strength.
The market took little comfort in some better-than-expected earnings news. Home improvement giant Home Depot (HD - Free Home Depot Stock Report) posted strong results. The issue is up sharply. Also, shares of Wal-Mart (WMT - Free Wal-Mart Stock Report) are trading higher on a decent earnings report. Elsewhere, in the corporate arena, General Motors, which received a massive Government bailout, now plans to raise the price of its widely anticipated IPO.
Economic news in the U.S. was mixed this morning. The Producer Price Index (PPI) rose 0.4% for the month October, which was far less than economists had been expecting. However, the core PPI, which removes volatile food costs, showed prices actually declining. This is somewhat problematic, since its underscores a lack of strong economic expansion. Elsewhere this morning, the industrial production report for October showed no growth, in a reading that was slightly worse than expected. However, the manufacturing component did increase nicely. The report is covered in more detail by Value Line today.
The market is likely reacting to concerns about overseas developments. The Shanghai composite was down nearly 4% overnight, as investors are concerned about a possible tightening of that country’s monetary policy. Meanwhile, South Korea has also voted to push its interest rates higher. The move likely suggest strong economic expansion in Asia, and stands in sharp contrast to the efforts by the U.S. Fed to lower rates and further stimulate the slow-growing domestic economy.
Elsewhere overseas, the major European stock markets were trading lower, as meetings are under way to discuss Ireland’s banking problem. The FTSE was off about 2%, and the German DAX was off about 1.8%. Ireland’s banking situation is worth watching, since it was fears about the Europe’s banking system that led the U.S. markets lower several months ago.