(Reuters) – U.S. stocks fell on Thursday weighed down by the technology sector, as fears of a global slowdown were rekindled after the European Union cut its economic growth forecasts, while a slew of dismal quarterly reports also added to woes.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 4, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The European Commission said euro zone growth will slow to 1.3 percent this year from 1.9 percent in 2018, because of an expected slowdown in the largest countries of the bloc, partly due to global trade tensions.

“This is clearly raising concerns about global growth slowdown that we’ve been worrying about over the last several months and Europe is in the forefront of that,” said Aaron Clark, portfolio manager at GW&K Investment Management.

World stocks have been roiled by a U.S. trade war since early 2018, but optimism that a trade deal could be reached before a March 2 deadline, when additional tariffs kick in, has helped recent gains in the markets.

The next round of trade discussions will take place in Beijing in the coming week.

The technology sector, which has helped support the market in the past four days, fell 1.21 percent.

Marquee names such as Facebook Inc, Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc, Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc fell between 1 percent and 1.9 percent.

Still, the stellar run in stocks has pushed the S&P 500 up about 8 percent this year, boosted in part by fourth-quarter earnings which have been largely upbeat.

Of the 282 S&P 500 companies that have reported results, about 70 percent have topped earnings estimates, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

At 9:40 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 180.95 points, or 0.71 percent, at 25,209.35, the S&P 500 was down 21.57 points, or 0.79 percent, at 2,710.04 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 75.67 points, or 1.03 percent, at 7,299.61.

All major S&P sectors were lower, with the defensive consumer staples, real estate and utilities sectors posting the smallest losses.

U.S. regional lender BB&T Corp said it would buy rival SunTrust Banks Inc for about $28 billion in stock. SunTrust jumped 11 percent, while BB&T rose 4.95 percent.

Despite these gains the S&P 500 banks sub-sector was down 0.2 percent as Wall Street’s big lenders such as JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America Corp fell.

On the earnings front, handbag maker Tapestry Inc plunged 17.35 percent, the most on the S&P 500, after it cut full-year adjusted profit blaming a slowing global economy.

Twitter Inc dropped 10.71 percent after the company forecast first-quarter revenue below estimates and reported a drop in users for the fourth quarter.

Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 3.34-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 2.35-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.

The S&P index recorded two new 52-week highs and no new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 15 new highs and 13 new lows.

Reporting by Medha Singh and Amy Caren Daniel in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta


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