Stocks Slip Amid Weak Asian Data, Ukraine Gas Tensions

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Markets slid Monday amid poor economic data from China and Japan, while tensions continued in Ukraine.

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.21% to 16,418.68, while the S&P 500 was off 0.05% to 1,877.17. The Nasdaq dropped 0.4% to 4,334.45.
  • Japan's economy expanded by an annualized 0.7% from the prior quarter, down from the previous preliminary estimate of 1%. In another discouraging sign for the export-driven economy and "Abenomics," its current account deficit widened to a record 1.589 trillion yen ($15.38 billion) in January. China reported a trade deficit of $23 billion for February, a big miss from expectations for a trade surplus of $14.5 billion. Exports from China fell 18.1% in February from a year earlier, customs data from March 8 showed. This was the largest fall since August 2009.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced support on Sunday for the Crimea to become part of Russia. Russia has threatened to cut off gas to Ukraine, claiming it owes $1.89 billion for supplies. A similar shutdown in 2009 for several weeks hiked prices and caused shortages in other parts of Europe. The Ukraine relies on Russia for 70% of its gas supply.
  • In stock news, Boeing (BA) dipped 1.3% after saying that "hairline cracks" have been found in the wings of 40 787 Dreamliners currently in production and that delivery orders may be delayed. Boeing was the top laggard in the Dow. Energy and gold stocks led losses in the S&P 500. Cliffs Natural Resources (CLF) shed 3.8%, Peabody Energy (BTU) was off 3.7% and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold (FCX) closed 2.5% lower. Other laggards included Alcoa (AA) and United States Steel (X), down 1.8% and 1.4%, respectively.
  • 3D Systems (DDD) fell 5.1% and Stratasys (SSYS) was 1.8% lower after Barron's described the stocks as overvalued.
  • Freescale Semiconductor (FSL) featured prominently in headlines Monday after the company confirmed that 20 of its employees were among the 239 passengers on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 that mysteriously went missing over the weekend. Twelve of the passengers were from Malaysia and eight were from China. CNN reported that despite a wide-scale search, no signs of the plane have turned up.
  • Major world markets were mostly lower. Hong Kong's Hang Seng settled down by 1.75% and the Nikkei 225 in Japan fell 1.01%. The FTSE 100 in London off 0.35% and the DAX in Germany was down 0.91%.
  • S&P Capital IQ's chief equity strategist Sam Stovall, highlighting the five-year anniversary since the stock market bottom following the 2008 financial crisis, wrote that the S&P 500 had risen a cumulative 178% in price from March 9, 2009 through March 7, 2014, second only to the bull market that started in August 1982, which gained 225%.

-- By Jane Searle, Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York.

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