Stocks fall sharply after weak economic data

U.S. stocks fell Monday after a disappointing report on construction spending.

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The Commerce Department said Monday that construction spending decreased 0.6 percent from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.293 trillion. An increase had been expected.

Stocks rose early in the session on optimism that a trade deal between the U.S. and China is drawing closer. Then equities fell, at one point the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down nearly 400 points. But as the closing bell approached, the market came off session lows.

Beijing has offered to lower tariffs and other restrictions on American farm, chemical, auto and other products and Wis ashington considering removing most, if not all, sanctions levied against Chinese products since last year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The talks have, however, progressed to the extent that a formal agreement could be reached at a summit between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, probably around March 27, after Xi finishes a trip to Italy and France, individuals with knowledge of the plans said.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES26827.64+57.44+0.21%
SP500S&P 5003006.72+20.52+0.69%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX8162.987048+73.44+0.91%

Health care and tech companies led losers. Shares of CenturyLink, which have suffered a series of analyst downgrades, fell after the wireline company delayed its 10-K report.

The stock of WellCare Health Plans retreated as did shares of for-profit health insurance provider Anthem.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
CTLCENTURYLINK INC12.41-0.03-0.24%
WCGWELLCARE HEALTH PLANS INC271.63-2.82-1.03%
ANTMANTHEM INC253.07+3.67+1.47%

In Asian markets on Monday,  China’s Shanghai Composite index was up 1.1 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to an eight-month high.  Japan’s Nikkei rose 1 percent to a three-month high.

In Europe, the major markets closed mixed. London’s FTSE was up 0.4 percent, Germany’s DAX slipped 0.1 percent and France’s CAC rose 0.4 percent.

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As earnings season winds down, investors will get a boatload of retail results to digest this week. Reports are due from Target, Costco, Kroger, Kohl’s, Ross Stores, Dollar Tree, Urban Outfitters and several others.

At the end of the week, the government will release the biggest report of them all, the monthly jobs report on Friday.

FOX Business' Ken Martin contributed to this report.