Stocks fall on mixed earnings, weak China report

BERNARD CONDON AP Business Writer Published:

NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks are falling broadly in morning trading Thursday as investors weigh some disappointing earnings from U.S. companies and a survey from China suggesting the manufacturing sector of the world's second-largest economy is headed for a contraction.

KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 176 points, or 1 percent, to 16,198 as of 11:10 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 lost 18 points, or 1 percent, to 1,827. The Nasdaq composite dropped 42 points, or 1 percent, to 4,201. Two stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange.

CHINA INDUSTRIAL: The preliminary reading of HSBC's purchasing managers' index for China dipped this month to 49.6, the lowest level since July. Numbers below 50 indicate contraction.

"Any kink in the growth story globally is going to give investors pause," said James Dunigan, chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management. "The market at these levels is a bit skittish."

WEAK RESULTS: Several U.S. companies fell after reporting their latest quarterly results, including KeyCorp, Johnson Controls and Jacobs Engineering. United Continental fell $1.24, or 2 percent, to $47.97 after its prediction for revenue growth this quarter disappointed investors.

WATCHING NETFLIX: Netflix jumped $53.93, or 16 percent, to $387.89, the biggest gain in the S&P 500. After the closing bell Wednesday, the streaming video company reported fourth-quarter earnings had climbed six-fold and that it had added 2.3 million subscribers during the period.

EBAY SPIN OFF?: EBay rose 43 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $54.84 as pressure mounts from activist investor Carl Icahn for the company to spin off PayPal. On Wednesday, eBay reported higher earnings on strong holiday-season buying. Its CEO has said a spin off was not in the best interest of shareholders.

FREIGHT AND FOOD: Union Pacific rose nearly $6, or 3.5 percent, to $174.32 after reporting a 13 percent jump in fourth-quarter earnings that beat analyst forecasts. McDonald's also surprised analysts with earnings of $1.40 per share, a penny more than expected, though comparable-store sales edged lower, led by a decline in the U.S. Its stock rose 85 cents, or nearly 1 percent, to $95.73.

TREASURIES AND COMMODITIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.81 percent from 2.86 percent on Wednesday. The price of oil rose 57 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $97.30 a barrel. Gold was up $24.10, or 2 percent, to $1,262.70 an ounce.

OVER THERE: European and Asian markets were broadly lower. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.8 percent to close at 15,695 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.5 percent to 22,733. In European trading, Germany's DAX fell 1.1 percent to 9,615.