U.S. stocks close lower on sell-off

by Susie Olson February 1, 2018, 0:52
U.S. stocks close lower on sell-off

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.7 percent to 3,462.29 while Tokyo's Nikkei 225 was off 8 points at 23,281.39. Brent crude, used to price worldwide oils, dropped 44 cents, or 0.6 percent, to close at $69.02 a barrel in London.

"Confidence is rising to start the year, but that could turn around in a hurry next month if these two days of heavy stock market losses don't end up getting reversed", Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG, said in a research note Tuesday.

The Nasdaq has pounded out a 7.2% advance so far this month, its best monthly showing since October 2015 - and its best January performance since the market rebound of 2001.

Stocks are opening solidly higher on Wall Street after a number of big US companies reported strong quarterly earnings. The tock is extended following a flat base breakout in September.

But the booming equities market has triggered concern among policymakers that investors could be overvaluing stocks, setting up a nasty correction.

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Hong Kong's Hang Seng - which had risen in 24 of the past 27 trading days, hitting multiple record highs on the way - finished down 0.6%.

About 7.1 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges. Health-related shares were broadly lower, with health insurers UnitedHealth Group losing 4.4 per cent and Cigna 7.2 per cent. Others with big drops included Walgreens Boots Alliance, which lost 5.2 per cent and Merck, which shed 1.6 per cent.

Xerox (XRX) trimmed its early gain to 2%, after reporting a healthy fourth-quarter and announcing that Japan's Fujifilm Holdings (FUJIY) would take a majority stake in the company, renaming the company Fuji Xerox. The contract plunged $1.06 on Tuesday to $64.50.

Although the Dow decline came just hours before President Trump's State of the Union address, the President was still expected to trumpet the country's economic gains and pat himself on the back for a stock market that until now had set a string of new records. The November Chicago purchasing manager's index from Kingsbury International is slated for a 9:45 a.m. ET release, pending homes sales data from the National Association of Realtors at 10 a.m. and weekly oil inventories from the Energy Information administration at 10:30 a.m. ET.

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