Investors focus on economy, trade jitters over impeachment

Stocks stumbled on Thursday as investors got spooked by a weak read on manufacturing and fresh jitters over whether a long-term trade deal between the U.S and China will come together.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 37775.38 +22.07 +0.06%
SP500 S&P 500 5011.12 -11.09 -0.22%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 15601.498878 -81.87 -0.52%

Investors kept the three major averages in the red, concerned about Chicago PMI, which came in at 43.2, its weakest since December 2015. A reading below 50 signals contraction. On Friday, investors will be focused on the national manufacturing read from the Institute for Supply Management, as well as the October jobs report.

Losses held after the House of Representatives passed a resolution to move forward with the impeachment process, voting 232 to 196 in favor of formalizing a probe. The vote was mostly along party lines with two Democrats voting against the resolution.

On the trade front, Chinese officials warned they won’t budge on some of the most contentious issues between the two countries, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. They remain concerned about President Trump's impulsive nature and the risk he may back out of the limited agreement both sides say they want to sign in the coming weeks, the report said.

Earnings season continued to show some bright spots for big tech. Apple shares gained after the tech giant said Wednesday that revenue rose 18 percent year-over-year to $64 billion despite sliding iPhone sales. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company saw strength in its services business and in wearables.

The social-media behemoth Facebook reported third-quarter results that beat Wall Street's top- and bottom-line estimates, though CEO Mark Zuckerberg warned of a "tough year" ahead politically.

Meanwhile, Starbucks reported strong sales growth in the U.S. and China. The coffee chain said it will turn its focus to creating new drinks and fine-tuning digital ordering.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AAPL APPLE INC. 167.04 -0.96 -0.57%
FB n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
SBUX STARBUCKS CORP. 87.11 +0.90 +1.04%

Altria shares tumbled after the company took a $4.5 billion writedown on its Juul investment. Last year, Altria paid $12.8 billion for a 35 percent stake in the e-cigarette maker.

Elsewhere, the online furniture retailer Wayfair and the meal-kit maker Blue Apron were battered after posting larger-than-expected quarterly losses.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MO ALTRIA GROUP INC. 41.30 +0.20 +0.49%
W WAYFAIR INC. 54.74 -0.01 -0.02%
APRN n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.

Moving away from earnings, Fiat Chrysler gained after announcing plans to forge ahead on a $50 billion merger with Peugeot owner PSA Group.

The S&P 500 closed at a record on high on Wednesday after investors welcomed the Fed's third rate cut of the year, to a range of 1.5 percent to  1.75 percent, as the central bank looks to shore up economic growth amid a bruising U.S.-China trade war. The Fed indicated it won't cut rates again unless the outlook worsens.

On Thursday, President Trump slammed the Fed for signaling a pause in rate cuts tweeting; "People are VERY disappointed in Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve..."

Also on Wednesday, the Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew at a 1.9 percent rate in the July-September quarter, a stronger performance than expected.


Overnight, a monthly gauge of Chinese factory activity declined more than expected for October amid weak consumer demand and a tariff war with Washington. That report sent China's Shanghai Composite down 0.3 percent.

Hong Kong slid into recession for the first time in a decade in the third quarter. The economy shrank 3.2 percent in July-September from the preceding period, contracting for a second straight quarter and meeting the technical definition of a recession, according to preliminary government data on Thursday.


Ken Martin and the Associated Press contributed to this article.