US stocks close lower on US-China trade talk concerns

Stocks fell Thursday in their steepest decline since Jan. 28 on downbeat comments by White House adviser Larry Kudlow about U.S.-China trade talks, earnings disappointments from U.S. corporations and dimming hopes for economic growth in Europe.

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Kudlow told Fox Business, "There is a pretty sizable distance to go in U.S.-China trade talks." After those comments, the Dow Industrials fell to a session low, down more than 300 points.

Reuters also reported that a meeting between President Trump and China's President Xi was unlikely before the March 1 trade deadline, according to administration officials.

The technology sector weighed on stocks as fears of a global slowdown were rekindled after the European Union cut its economic growth forecasts. The European Commission said eurozone growth will slow to 1.3 percent this year from 1.9 percent in 2018.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES27001.98-22.82-0.08%
SP500S&P 5002989.69-5.99-0.20%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX8124.183658-24.52-0.30%

Twitter forecast first-quarter revenue that was below analyst estimates on Thursday and said the number of users fell in the fourth quarter, which sent shares lower.

Fiat Chrysler shares fell after weaker-than-expected guidance for profits and industrial free cash flow this year raised doubts about longer-term targets.

There were a few bright spots. BB&T said it will buy SunTrust Banks for about $28 billion in an all-stock deal, creating the sixth largest U.S. lender in the biggest bank deal since the 2007-2009 financial crisis.

Earnings at T-Mobile exceeded Wall Street estimates as the telecommunications firm ups its lobbying efforts to win federal approval for a $26.5 billion merger with Sprint.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
FCAUFIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES N.V.13.47+0.17+1.28%
TWTRTWITTER INC.39.91-0.37-0.92%
BBTBB&T CORP.52.99+0.25+0.47%
STISUNTRUST BANKS68.25+0.22+0.32%

In economic news, the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits dropped from near a 1-1/2-year high last week, pointing to continued labor market strength.  Initial claims for state unemployment benefits tumbled 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 for the week ended Feb. 2, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Both the European Commission and the Bank of England cut their growth forecasts of Europe's economic growth. Meanwhile, Germany reported a fourth consecutive drop in industrial output.

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In Europe, the major markets closed lower. Germany’s DAX fell 2.7 percent,  London’s FTSE dropped 1.1 percent and France’s CAC was down 1.8 percent.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei closed  0.6 percent lower. Markets in China and Hong Kong remain closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.

FOX Business' Ken Martin contributed to this report.