NEW YORK — Stocks are falling on Wall Street Thursday after the government reported that economic growth slowed down at the end of last year.
The market is still heading for its best start of the year since 1991, in stark contrast to a dismal end to 2018, when a plunge almost put an end to the bull market. The gains so far this year are being pushed by investor confidence in prospects for steady growth and an increasingly hands-off Federal Reserve.
The latest figures show that the U.S. economy grew in the fourth quarter at its slowest pace since the beginning of 2018. The growth still beat economists’ forecasts, however, which sent bond yields higher. A bright spot in the latest report shows that for the full year, the economy grew at its fastest pace since 2015.
Several tech companies delivered subpar results. HP plunged after reporting weak sales of printers and computers. Cloud-computing company Box nosedived after giving delivering a weak forecast. Priceline.com parent Booking Holding fell after warning of a slowdown of sales in Europe.
Stocks in Asia, especially South Korea, fell after talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ended abruptly without an agreement. By cutting short their meeting, the two leaders foiled hopes for an agreement with tangible progress toward ending the North’s nuclear program that could have raised confidence across the region.
Investors are still waiting for more details on trade negotiations between the U.S. and China. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has raised doubts about progress, telling lawmakers that “much still needs to be done” before the sides can reach an agreement over Beijing’s technology strategy and other issues.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell slightly as of 12:30 p.m. The S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq composite index rose slightly.
OVERSEAS: Stocks fell broadly in Asia. South Korea’s Kospi shed 1.8 percent after negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea failed. Meanwhile, China’s economy showed more signs of a slowdown with manufacturing activity falling to a three-year low in February.
Stocks were also broadly lower in Europe.
COMPUTER CRASH: HP plunged 16 percent after it reported that weaker printer and computer sales hurt fiscal first-quarter profit. It also expects printer supplies revenue to fall in 2019 because of weaker global demand.
The weak sales report and forecast shaved 16 percent off the stock.
ENERGIZED: Monster Beverage rose on a nearly 16 percent sales increase for its signature energy drinks. The higher drink sales pushed revenue and profit beyond Wall Street forecasts and the company plans to buy back $500 million in stock. The stock gained 10 percent.
RETAIL RISING: J.C. Penney surged 27 percent, putting it on track for its best ever one-day gain, after the department store operator beat investor forecasts for the fourth-quarter. The retailer had warned of a weak holiday sales period and its profit tumbled more than 70 percent. Still, the results and a key sales measure for retailers weren’t as bad as Wall Street expected.
The company, which has been closing stores for years, said it would turn the lights out at another 18 department stores, as well as nine home and furniture stores.