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Dow plunges 280 points, hit by weak earnings, China

April 17, 2015, 6:46 PM UTC
Positive Earnings Push Dow Jones Average Higher For Day
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 15: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange during the afternoon of April 15, 2015 in New York City. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 75 points higher today. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Photograph by Andrew Burton — Getty Images

Wall Street tumbled on Friday, with the major indexes down more than 1% amid investor concerns over new regulations in China, Greece’s debt negotiations, and disappointing earnings reports from U.S. corporations.

All ten major S&P 500 index sectors lost ground, while the Dow Jones industrial average fell as much as 357 points at the lows of the the session.

“Today, it just seems the wall of worry is higher than it’s been in a while because of Greece, oil, earnings and economic data from the past few days,” said Jeffrey Carbone, senior partner, Cornerstone Financial Partners, in Cornelius, N.C.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 279.47 points, or 1.54%, to close at 17,826.30. The S&P 500 slid 23.81 points, or 1.13%, to 2,081.18 and the Nasdaq Composite lost 75.98 points, or 1.52%, to 4,931.81.

Both Honeywell International (HON) and General Electric (GE) blamed the strong dollar for lower revenue in their earnings reports Friday.

Dow component American Express (AXP), the world’s largest credit card issuer, was one of the biggest drags on the market. It fell more than 4% after revenue missed analysts’ estimates, partly due to the currency impact.

“Eventually, people have to say, ‘OK, forget about the Fed and central bankers nonsense and focus on the fundamentals,’ because if the large-caps are coming in with lower-than-expected earnings, then you know that other smaller companies will be in trouble,” said Joe Saluzzi, co-manager of trading at Themis Trading in Chatham, New Jersey.

In other news, staff attorneys at the Justice Department’s antitrust division are nearing a recommendation to block the proposed $45 billion merger of Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWC), Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Chinese authorities lifted restrictions on short-selling while also warning against excessive borrowing on margin, two developments that could pressure that market.

China H-Share index futures fell 3.3%. Global equities lost ground as the weakness in China carried through to European markets and then into the United States.
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“The restrictions on short-selling have been lifted in China and when one market sneezes, the rest of them usually react,” said Saluzzi.

Earlier, stocks in Europe fell more than 1% on the Chinese news and on worries Greece may run out of money as debt repayments loom. Peripheral euro zone government debt yields rose while core German bund yields hit a new record low. Greece dismissed reports it needed to tap remaining cash reserves to meet salary payments.

The U.S. quarterly earnings season has been mixed so far with more companies beating lowered expectations.