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U.S. Stocks Waver on Earnings, China Data

By Max Bernhard 

U.S. stocks were little changed Friday as investors weighed some upbeat earnings reports and data showing the Chinese economy slowed further in the third quarter.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 36 points, or 0.1%, to 26988 shortly after the opening bell. The S&P 500 was flat and the Nasdaq Composite declined less than 0.1%.

Shares of American Express rose 0.1% after its third-quarter earnings beat forecasts. Shares in Coca-Cola jumped 1.8% following higher sales posted by the beverage giant. Intuitive Surgical was up 4.2% after the company beat Wall Street forecasts for sales and profit.

State Street climbed 1.7% after its quarterly results beat analysts' estimates.

Meanwhile, China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.3%, its biggest decline in a month. Fresh data showed that China's economy grew 6% in the quarter as business activity continued to deteriorate in the world's No. 2 economy. Each quarterly slowdown in growth has pulled the economic performance to new lows not seen since the current measure of output was adopted in 1992.

"The figures are painting markets in red today," said Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at London Capital Group. "Pulling below 6% would be really bad for investor sentiment, not only in China, but globally."

The Stoxx Europe 600 gauge fell 0.1% as investors weighed evidence of the further slowdown in China's economy and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, as well as disappointing corporate results across Europe.

In the U.K., the FTSE 250 equity index ticked 0.3% higher and the pound wavered between gains and losses against the U.S. dollar. Investors are watching developments closely before U.K. lawmakers vote Saturday on a draft Brexit agreement struck with the European Union. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is trying to muster enough support for the deal in the U.K. Parliament.

British lawmakers' support for the deal would provide a short-term boost to the pound and European equities, but wouldn't eliminate deeper concerns, said Seema Shah, senior investment strategist at Principal Global Investors. "You may have lifted the uncertainty, but you still have to deal with Brexit," she said.

French auto maker Renault was the biggest loser in Europe, declining 12.1% after cutting its full-year revenue and operating-margin guidance on a sales slump outside Europe and higher costs from developing lower-emissions car models. French food giant Danone dropped 7.9% after it lowered expectations for its like-for-like sales growth in 2019.

Write to Max Bernhard at Max.Bernhard@dowjones.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 18, 2019 10:00 ET (14:00 GMT)

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