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Stock market today: Wall St. futures follow global markets lower after more weak data from

JOE McDONALD and MATT OTT, Associated Press

People pass the front of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, Tuesday, March 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan

Wall Street is sliding before Tuesday’s opening bell following yet more troublesome economic signals from China.

Futures for the benchmark S&P 500 index and for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were each down 0.6% before the bell Tuesday.

China’s economic slump deepened in July and its central bank cut a key interest rate to shore up growth. Consumer and factory activity slowed more than expected in July and the People’s Bank of China cut its interest rate on one-week loans to banks.

“Policymakers are starting to hit the panic button,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a report.

Data showed growth in Chinese retail spending slowed to 2.5% over a year earlier from June’s already weak 3.1%. Growth in factory output and investment also decelerated.

The People’s Bank of China cut its interest rate on one-week loans to banks to 1.8% from 1.9% in a sign of growing official urgency about reversing the downturn.

Also Tuesday, Russia’s central bank raised its main lending rate by 3.5 percentage points to 12% in an emergency move to strengthen the ruble after the currency reached its lowest value since early in the war with Ukraine. The ruble has lost one-third of its value since the start of this year.

Markets are also waiting to peruse more retail sales data from the U.S., which comes out an hour before markets open. Analysts expect that Americans increased their spending 0.4% in July, after a modest increase of 0.2% in June.

American consumers, despite persistent inflation that has dragged on for two years, have helped prop up the U.S. economy with their spending.

On Wednesday, the Fed releases minutes of its latest meeting, where the U.S. central bank’s main interest rate was raised to the highest level in more than two decades.

Traders expect the Fed to hold rates steady at its next meeting next month, according to data from CME Group. Some bet the Fed will begin cutting rates early next year.

On the corporate front, Home Depot shares barely budged in premarket after the home improvement giant beat Wall Street’s profit and revenue expectations, even as sales continued to decline.

Second quarter revenue was $42.92 billion, down 2% from the same stretch last year. Sales have fallen 3.1% through the first half of the year compared with 2022.

U.S. Steel shares were off about 1% in premarket trading Tuesday, at $30.70 per share, after industrial conglomerate Esmark made an all-cash offer to buy the 122-year-old Pittsburgh steelmaker for $7.8 billion, topping an earlier $7.3 billion offer from rival Cleveland-Cliffs. After the Cleveland-Cliffs proposal was made public on Sunday, shares in U.S. Steel soared nearly 38% on Monday.

At midday in Europe, the FTSE 100 in London fell 1.4%, the CAC 40 in Paris declined 1.2% and the DAX in Frankfurt lost 1%.

In Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index fell slightly less than 0.1% to 3,176.17. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.8% to 18,622.55.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 0.6% to 32,238.89 after the Japanese economy grew by an unexpectedly strong 1.5% over the previous quarter in the three months ending in June.

Markets in South Korea and India were closed for holidays. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets declined.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude lost 89 cents to $81.62 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 68 cents on Monday to $82.51. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trading, retreated 74 cents to $85.47 per barrel in London. It shed 60 cents the previous session to $86.21.

The dollar rose to 145.57 yen from Monday’s 145.52 yen. The euro gained to $1.0934 from $1.0904.

On Monday, the S&P 500 gained 0.6%, the Dow edged up 0.1% and the Nasdaq composite gained 1.1%.


McDonald reported from Beijing; Ott reported from Silver Spring, Md.

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