NEW YORK (AP) — Wall Street is opening lower as worries build that the U.S. may be headed for a painful recession. The S&P 500 fell 0.6% early Thursday. Reports showed weakness in several areas of the economy, including the housing industry and manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic region, though they weren’t quite as bad as expected and the job market appears to remain healthy. They follow worse-than-expected readings a day earlier on retail sales, a cornerstone of the economy, and industrial production. Altogether, they show an economy slowing under the weight of last year’s blizzard of rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
Wall Street drifted lower in premarket trading Thursday, extending the largest single-day retreat of the year Wednesday after new economic data heightened worries about the possibility of a recession.
Futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 slid 0.8% before the opening bell.
The U.S. government reported Wednesday that Americans cut back on their retail spending more than anticipated in December, the second consecutive monthly decline. Separately, the Federal Reserve said U.S. industrial production, which covers manufacturing, mining and utilities, fell in December much more than economists had expected.
On the other hand, wholesale prices — goods bought and sold before they reach the consumer — fell for the sixth consecutive month, though those prices rose 6.2% in December from a year earlier.
Investors have been hoping that easing inflation and a slowdown in economic growth might influence the Federal Reserve’s position on interest rates. The central bank aggressively raised rates throughout 2022 in an effort to cool hot inflation.
But a key Federal Reserve policymaker said interest rates need to go higher than the central bank signaled earlier.
“On the macro front, there remains lingering uncertainties about the outlook for the global economy,” said Anderson Alves, trader at ActivTrades. “A slew of disappointing U.S. data releases and hawkish Fed rhetoric are also adding to the risk-off mood across markets.”
The broader economic picture is still not clear enough to see whether the Fed’s fight against inflation is working well enough to avoid a recession. Several major banks have forecast at least a mild recession at some point in 2023 and many companies have been reporting lower profit margins as consumers pull back on their spending. And the layoffs keep coming.
In Europe, France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX each fell 1.7%, while Britain’s FTSE 100 tumbled 1.2%.
Japan reported its trade deficit more than doubled in December from a year earlier, to 1.4 trillion yen ($11.3 billion), while the total deficit for all of 2022 ballooned to nearly 20 trillion yen ($156 billion) as the yen weakened and soaring costs for oil and other imports far outpaced an 18% increase in exports.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 1.4% to 26,405.23. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6% to 7,435.30. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.5% to 2,380.34. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.1% to 21,650.98, while the Shanghai Composite rose 0.5% to 3,240.28.
In energy trading Thursday, U.S. benchmark crude fell 51 cents to $78.97 a barrel. It fell 70 cents to $79.48 per barrel on Wednesday. Brent crude, the international pricing standard, lost 37 cents to $84.61 a barrel.
In currency trading, the U.S. dollar declined to 128.45 Japanese yen from 128.87 yen. The euro cost $1.0819, up from $1.0796.
The S&P 500 fell 1.6% on Wednesday, while the Dow industrials lost 1.8%. The Nasdaq composite slid 1.2%, ending a seven-day winning streak. The losses are a reversal for the market, which kicked off the year with a two-week rally.
Kageyama reported from Tokyo; Ott reported from Washington.
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.