Stocks opened in negative territory amid pessimism on the trade talks with China despite a Wall Street Journal article that said President Trump's "outside advisors remain convinced the two sides will reach a deal, even if it is a limited pact." The averages picked up downside momentum, with the Dow losing roughly 1% before paring its losses a bit near noon.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., no economic data of note was reported.
TOP NEWS: In a post on Medium, Amazon (AMZN) CEO and owner of the Washington Post Jeff Bezos accused American Media, Inc., the owner of the National Enquirer magazine, of attempting to blackmail him. The post reads in part, "Rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I've decided to publish exactly what [AMI] sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten...These communications cement AMI's long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections, and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism. Of course I don't want personal photos published, but I also won't participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks, and corruption. I prefer to stand up, roll this log over, and see what crawls out." On January 10, the day after Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos announced plans to divorce, the National Enquirer said it was about to release scandalous photos of Jeff Bezos' alleged affair .
Shares of Arconic (ARNC) moved lower in Friday trading after the aluminum products maker said it would explore the potential sale of certain businesses and plans to split itself into two units, with a spinoff of one unit at a later date. The news comes days after John Plant took over as CEO as Arconic cut ties with former CEO Chip Blankenship two weeks after the company walked away from a deal to be acquired by Apollo Global (APO).
Hasbro's (HAS) earnings report disappointed Wall Street, as the company was hurt by a number of factors, including the liquidation of Toys R Us. Meanwhile, rival Mattel (MAT) beat the Street's forecasts in its holiday quarter, saying that its Barbie line ended 2018 with its highest sales in five years. Shares of toymakers have been moving in opposite directions following their reports, with Hasbro down 3% near noon and Mattel jumping 23%.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Electronic Arts (EA), which jumped 14% after its Respawn unit said that over 10M players have played the company's new game "Apex Legends."
Also higher were Coty (COTY) and Skechers (SKX), which gained a respective 28% and 16% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was Micron (MU), which slid 4% after Goldman Sachs analyst Mark Delaney said in a research note that DRAM and NAND pricing continues to deteriorate.
Also lower were Vocera (VCRA) and Carbonite (CARB), which fell 22% and 19%, respectively, after reporting quarterly results.
INDEXES: Near midday,
the Dow was down 209.05, or 0.83%, to 24,960.48, the Nasdaq was down 33.71, or 0.46%, to 7,254.64, and the S&P 500 was down 15.28, or 0.56%, to 2,690.77.