US stocks trade lower amid weak construction data

New York: US stocks traded lower on Monday, as investor sentiment was dented by unexpectedly disappointing economic data on US construction spending in December last year, which raised concerns over slowing economic growth.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 269.70 points, or 1.04 per cent, to 25,756.62. The S&P 500 was down 21.35 points, or 0.76 per cent, to 2,782.34, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 63.11 points, or 0.83 per cent, to 7,532.24.

Shares of Children’s Place declined nearly 9.6 per cent around midday, after the US retailer of children’s apparel reported fourth-quarter earnings that missed market expectations, which the company attributed to the bankruptcy and liquidation of its rival Gymboree.

Yet shares of Kraft Heinz rose nearly 1.9 per cent around midday, after Morgan Stanley upgraded the US food company’s stock to “equal-weight” from “underweight,” as notes to local media said market concerns over a dividend cut and an earnings shortfall have been factored into the stock.

All of the 11 primary S&P 500 sectors traded on a downbeat note at midday, with the health care sector down nearly 1.5 per cent, leading the laggards among the groups.

On the economic front, US construction spending sank 0.6 per cent in December 2018, with year-on-year growth falling to 1.6 per cent, the weakest growth rate in at least three years, the US Census bureau said on Monday.

The unexpected drop came following an unrevised 0.8 per cent increase in November, as spending in private residential construction declined 1.4 per cent in the month.