Wall St. drops on global economic worries
U.S. stocks slumped shortly after the opening bell on Wednesday to extend recent declines, as worries over weak economies globally continued to pressure commodities and as U.S. retail sales for December fell short of expectations.
Copper touched its lowest since July 2009 and were last down 5 percent at $5,571.50 a tonne after the World Bank cut its global forecast for economic growth in 2015 and next year. Shares of Freeport McMoRan Inc lost 9.6 percent to $19.01 as the worst performer on the S&P 500.
Oil prices remained volatile, struggling to find a floor. Brent crude fell to a low of $45.59 before rebounding to trade up 1 percent to $47.06, while U.S. crude was up 1.3 percent at $46.50 after falling as low as $45.01. The Energy Information Administration's oil inventory report is due at 10:30 a.m. EST (1530 GMT).
Consumer spending in December disappointed, as core retail sales fell 0.4 percent, short of expectations calling for a 0.4 percent increase and the 0.6 percent rise in the prior month. The S&P retail index lost 0.7 percent.
"The futures weren't looking too good and that retail report didn't do it any good, it took a big nosedive after that," said Randy Frederick, managing director of trading and derivatives for Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.
"It doesn't look like it's going to be a pretty day at this point."
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 228.76 points, or 1.3 percent, to 17,384.92, the S&P 500 lost 20.41 points, or 1.01 percent, to 2,002.62 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 32.98 points, or 0.71 percent, to 4,628.52.
Adding to the pressure, JPMorgan Chase & Co fell 4.1 percent to $56.46 after the biggest U.S. bank by assets reported a 6.6 percent drop in quarterly profit. Wells Fargo & Co shed 0.8 percent to $51.46 after posting quarterly results.
Each of the 10 major S&P sectors were in negative territory, with materials down 2 percent, and financials off 1.6 percent, leading the decline.
Companies were expected to show fourth-quarter earnings growth of 3.7 percent from a year earlier, according to Thomson Reuters data, down from 11.2 percent growth forecast on Oct. 1.
The benchmark S&P index has fallen for three straight sessions and has declined in eight of the past in 10 days. The index is down more than 4 percent from its last record high on Dec. 29.
Other data showed U.S. import prices recorded their biggest drop in six years in December as the cost of petroleum plunged.
A report on business inventories was scheduled for 10 a.m. (1500 GMT).
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,270 to 513, for a 4.42-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,722 issues fell and 602 advanced for a 2.86-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 4 new 52-week highs and 21 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 6 new highs and 65 new lows.