US stocks fall amid weakening global growth outlook

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 4, 2019.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on March 4, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (AFP) - Wall Street stocks fell on Wednesday (March 6), continuing its run of recent weakness amid a dimming global economic outlook.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.5 per cent to finish the session at 25,673.46.

The broad-based S&P 500 shed 0.7 per cent to 2,771.45, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 0.9 per cent to end the day at 7,505.92.

After a strong start to 2019, US stocks have generally traded flat to lower in the last two weeks amid talk the market is overbought.

Sentiment was further dented by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development on Wednesday cutting its global growth forecast for 2019 to 3.3 per cent, from the prior 3.5 per cent.

US data were mixed, with the trade deficit hitting a 10-year peak in 2018 and private-sector hiring slowing somewhat in February compared with January.

"It's perfectly normal to see the market pull back, especially after such a rally," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive of 50 Park Investment, who also cited slowing growth expectations as a headwind.

Pharmaceutical names were mostly lower, with Pfizer shedding 2.4 per cent, Amgen 3 per cent and Gilead Sciences 2.3 per cent.

An exception was Johnson & Johnson, which advanced 0.2 per cent after the Food and Drug Administration late Tuesday approved esketamine nasal spray, marketed under the brand name Spravato, which is seen as a potentially revolutionary treatment for severe, treatment-resistant depression.

General Electric suffered another bruising session, losing 8 per cent a day after its chief executive signaled the company's performance would continue to be dogged in 2019 by weakness in its power business.

Dollar Tree shot up 5.1 per cent despite reporting a loss of US$2.3 billion (S$3.1 billion) on a large write-down of its Family Dollar business. But analysts said the report showed progress overall and hailed a plan to shutter underperforming stores.