Forexpros – U.S. stocks plummeted Wednesday, as investor confidence weakened after a string of disappointing U.S. economic data and amid ongoing concerns over the handling of the euro zone’s debt crisis.
The Commerce Department said U.S. retail sales fell by a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in May, falling for the second successive month and marking the first back-to-back- decline in two years, while core retail sales, which exclude automobile sales, fell by 0.4% last month, the biggest decline since May 2010.
A separate report showed that U.S. producer price inflation fell 0.2% in May, the largest monthly decline since July 2009.
Meanwhile, market sentiment remained vulnerable amid concerns that a bailout of as much as EUR100 billion for Spain’s banks will add to the country’s debt burden and make it more difficult for Madrid to access credit markets.
Investors were also jittery ahead of Sunday’s general election in Greece, which could determine the country’s future in the euro zone.
Financial stocks were mostly lower, as shares in Citigroup plunged 0.86% and Bank of America added 0.13%, while Goldman Sachs dropped 1.40%. Bank of America said earlier that it expects to reduce its long-term debt by about USD40 billion in the second quarter, eliminating interest expense of USD230 million per quarter.
JP Morgan saw shares rise 0.47%, on the other hand, as Chief Executive Jamie Dimon was set to tell lawmakers that the bank’s recent multibillion-dollar trading loss occurred because poorly managed traders embarked in January on a misguided hedging strategy they did not fully understand.
Elsewhere, Scotts Miracle-Gro dove 15.45% after the lawn care and service company said it would miss its full-year outlook on weak demand during the peak gardening season.
On the upside, health care giant Johnson & Johnson surged 9.65%, after saying it expects to complete its USD19.7 billion purchase of Swiss medical device maker Synthes on Thursday.
Meanwhile, social networking website LinkedIn Corp added 0.18% after saying that it will provide an additional layer of online security to its members following last week’s data breach, while adding that stolen passwords were not published with corresponding email logins.
At the close of European stock trade, the EURO STOXX 50 eased higher 0.01%, France’s CAC 40 declined 0.55%, while Germany’s DAX 30 dropped 0.14%.
Investors are awaiting the U.S. initial jobless numbers, core CPI, as well as Switzerland’s interest rate decision on Thursday.