By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday, on track for a fourth day of losses, as a World Bank forecast sparked concerns about weak economies and December U.S. retail sales missed expectations.
The S&P 500 broke below its 120-day moving average, a technical support level, and came within about 4 points of the low for the year of 1,992.44.
S&P 500 materials, energy and financial sectors all were down more than 2 percent, leading the day’s decline. Copper <CMCU3> touched its lowest since July 2009 and was last down 6.2 percent at $ 5,497 a tonne after the World Bank cut its growth forecasts for this year and next.
The S&P 500 index is now down more than 4 percent from its last record high on Dec. 29, and the year so far has been marked by increased volatility.
“It’s a multitude of factors, but on top of the list, global growth has been and will continue to decelerate going into 2015, which will have further implications for the oil and commodities markets,” said Chad Morganlander, portfolio manager at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co in Florham Park, New Jersey.
Shares of Freeport McMoRan Inc <FCX.N> tumbled for a second day. Shares were down 13.1 percent to $ 18.28 and were the S&P 500’s biggest percentage decliner.
At 1:00 p.m. (1800 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 263.62 points, or 1.5 percent, to 17,350.06, the S&P 500 <.SPX> had lost 23.19 points, or 1.15 percent, to 1,999.84 and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> had dropped 37.67 points, or 0.81 percent, to 4,623.82.
Oil prices <LCOc1> <CLc1> remained volatile, struggling to find a floor after recent heavy losses.
U.S. consumer spending in December disappointed and added to the economic concerns. The S&P retail index <.SPXRT> fell 1.5 percent.
Bank shares also lost ground, with JPMorgan Chase & Co <JPM.N> off 5.5 percent after the biggest U.S. bank by assets reported a 6.6 percent drop in quarterly profit. Wells Fargo & Co <WFC.N> shed 2.3 percent after posting quarterly results.
Estimates for U.S. fourth-quarter earnings have fallen sharply in recent months, with growth now estimated at just 3.7 percent for the quarter, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,254 to 785, for a 2.87-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,915 issues fell and 766 advanced for a 2.50-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The benchmark S&P 500 index was posting 11 new 52-week highs and 28 new lows; the Nasdaq Composite was recording 28 new highs and 108 new lows.
(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Jeffrey Benkoe and James Dalgleish)
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