The stock markets in the United States were down today as investors are becoming more concerned with China’s economy. The stock price of commodities, particularly copper and oil companies dropped.

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In a telephone interview with Bloomberg, Joe Bell, senior equity strategist at Schaeffer’s Investment Research commented that China is a big importer of copper, which could have triggered fear in equities. According to him, “Copper is somewhat related to the health of the global economy, so that could have pushed people to take some money off the table.”

Yesterday, the People’s Bank of China said the country’s credit growth in February fell behind the expectations of analysts. China experienced its first onshore bond default after Shanghai Chaori Solar Energy Science & Technology Co failed to fulfill its interest payment last week.

Commenting on the current economic situation of China, Mike Dragosits, senior commodity strategist at TD Securities in Toronto told Bloomberg,  “People are starting to re-evaluate the China demand scenario, not only from economic data, but also from this first ever corporate-debt default inside the country.” According to him, people are wondering how many companies out there will default on their interest payment.

Meanwhile, Jim Russel, senior equity strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management believed that the equity market will continue its progress in a “two-steps forward, one step-backward kind of progression.” He added that investors are still evaluating the impact of weather in the economic weakness and how much of it is legitimate.

Investors are also monitoring developments regarding the situation in Ukraine.

U.S. Markets

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA)- 16,351.25 (-0.41%)
  • S&P 500- 1,867.63 (-0.40%)
  • NASDAQ- 3,691.50.45 (-0.04%)
  • Russell 2000- 1,186.61 (-1.16%)

European Markets

  • EURO STOXX 50 Price EUR- 3,092.55 (-0.01%)
  • FTSE 100 Index- 6,685.52 (-0.06%)
  • Deutsche Borse AG German Stock Index DAX- 9,307.79 (+0.46%)

Asia Pacific Markets

  • Nikkei 225- 15,224.11 (+0.69%)
  • Hong Kong Hang Seng Index- 22,269.61 (+0.02%)
  • Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index- 2,108.66 (+0.52%)

Stocks in Focus

The stock price of American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) declined 7.81% to $13.10 per share after the company issued lower-than-estimated guidance for the first quarter. The teen-apparel retailer projected that its first quarter earnings per share will be zero compared with the $0.13 earnings per share estimated by analysts. Its Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Mary Boland said, “Business has remained highly competitive and sales trends have been choppy so far this year.”

The shares of Boyd Gaming Corporation (NYSE:BYD) closed at $13.75 per share, up by 16.53% after Elliott revealed that it acquired a 4.99% stake in the company. The stock actually traded as much as $14.15 a share today. Although the activist hedge fund said that it has no present plan or proposal to engage with the management of the company, it might seek discussions regarding strategic alternative to enhance shareholder value. There are speculations that Elliott might press the Boyd Gaming to establish as real estate investment trust (REIT) structure.

Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE:FCX) declined 2.14% to $30.71 per share driven by concerns over China’s economy and report that it cut its ore production at its copper and gold mine in Indonesia by 60%. Freeport-McMoRan’s subsidiary in Indonesia is the fifth largest copper mine worldwide.