Stocks slide on weakening global growth outlook

U.S. stocks fell Wednesday as investors awaited tangible evidence that U.S.-China trade talks will be successful.

In addition, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) cut its forecast for global economic growth, which weighed on investor sentiment.

Equities also slipped after a report that private sector hiring slowed in Februrary. Payroll services firm ADP said nonfarm payrolls increased 183,000 last month, slightly less than the expected 189,000.

It was also a decline from January, which ADP revised up to 300,000 from an initial estimate of 213,000 – indicating that February’s numbers could also increase.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 34715.39 -313.26 -0.89%
SP500 S&P 500 4482.73 -50.03 -1.10%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 14154.020372 -186.23 -1.30%

The OECD cut its forecast for global economic growth for 2019 by 0.2 percentage points to 3.3 percent. It also trimmed its forecast for global growth to 3.4 percent for 2020.

GE stock extended losses after CEO Larry Culp said earlier this week he sees negative free cash flow this year for the struggling conglomerate.

There were several notable exceptions to the general downdraft. Shares of Johnson & Johnson rose after the FDA approved its potentially blockbuster antidepressant Spravato.

Abercrombie & Fitch’s stock ballooned after the retailer beat Wall Street’s earnings estimates for the fourth quarter and announced it would close up to 40 stores in the next year.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
JNJ JOHNSON & JOHNSON 165.25 -1.33 -0.80%
ANF ABERCROMBIE & FITCH CO. 32.27 -1.87 -5.48%
DLTR DOLLAR TREE INC. 127.97 -3.35 -2.55%

Dollar Tree's announcement that it plans to close up to 390 Family Dollar stores nationwide this year and convert about 200 more into Dollar Tree locations instead boosted the discount retailers shares.

Crude oil prices fell after a larger-than-expected increase in U.S. reserves of the commodity.

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In Europe, stocks closed largely unchanged.

In Asia, Chinese stocks led markets higher on hopes for new stimulus measures. The Shanghai Stock Exchange was up 1.6 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.3 percewnt and Japan’s Nikkei was down 0.6 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.