U.S. earnings have continued to top a lowered bar, but that was not enough to support stocks today as a pair of big names in the Dow provided a drag on the blue chip index and the market as a whole. Outside of the U.S., GDP growth in China slowed to a near 30 year low in the third quarter in another sign that trade tensions are hitting the economy. Brexit uncertainty may have also played a role in today's declines ahead of a critical vote facing the U.K. Parliament this weekend.
ECONOMIC EVENTS: In the U.S., Conference Board's Leading Economic Index declined 0.1% to 111.9 in September. In energy news, Baker Hughes reported that the U.S. rig count is down 5 rigs from last week to 851.
In China, third quarter GDP growth came in a bit lower than expected with a 6.0% year-over-year gain. However, industrial production was firmer than expected in September with growth of 5.8% and retail sales were in-line with the consensus forecast, rising 7.8%.
TOP NEWS: Boeing (BA) shares fell 6.8% following reports that the Federal Aviation Administration said that the company notified the agency of instant messages the company found months ago that suggest employees misled the agency about key safety system on the 737 MAX. The administration said it viewed the messages as "concerning" and "is reviewing this information to determine what action is appropriate," according to Bloomberg. The New York Times reported that Mark Forkner, a Boeing pilot working on the 737 MAX, said in messages from 2016 that a new automated system was making the plane hard to control in flight simulators. According to a transcript of the exchange reviewed by the New York Times, Forkner said he "basically lied" to regulators.
Fellow Dow component Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) slid 6.2% after the company announced a voluntary recall in the U.S. of a single lot of its Johnson's Baby Powder in response to an FDA test indicating the presence of "sub-trace levels" of chrysotile asbestos contamination.
The news was of particular note due to the many talc-related lawsuits the company is facing.
Meanwhile, Oracle (ORCL) sadly announced that co-CEO Mark Hurd has passed away at the age of 62. Hurd had taken a leave of absence from the company a month ago for unspecified medical reasons.
On the earnings front, shares of Coca-Cola (KO) rose 1.8% after the beverage giant posted in-line earnings and better than expected revenue for the third quarter. The company, which grew unit case volume by 2% in the quarter, sees at least 5% growth in organic revenues for this fiscal year and raised its FY19 cash from operations view.
American Express (AXP) reported better than expected quarterly earnings and revenue, with its CEO touting the company's ninth straight quarter of currency-adjusted revenue growth of at least 8%. However, its Q4 revenue growth view of 8%-10% may have been seen as a bit of a disappointment and the shares finished 2% lower.
Retailers Macy's (M), L Brands (LB) and Gap (GPS) were under pressure on Friday morning after the trio were all downgraded to Underperform at Credit Suisse. Analyst Michael Binetti said his firm's checks, along with recent commentary from Levi Strauss (LEVI) and Hugo Boss, suggest industry trends in the U.S. remained "sluggish" in Q3 and he expects these pressured trends to continue into the fall and holiday season.
MAJOR MOVERS: Among the noteworthy gainers was Dermira (DERM), which rose 25.8% after it presented primary results from its Phase 2b lebrikizumab study. Also higher was E-Trade (ETFC), which gained 4.6% after reporting quarterly results.
Among the notable losers was Gildan Activewear (GIL), which fell 25.7% after reporting lower than expected preliminary third quarter results and cutting its guidance for fiscal 2019. Also lower was Altassian (TEAM), which dropped 4.7% after reporting quarterly results.
INDEXES: The Dow fell 255.68, or 0.95%, to 26,770.20, the Nasdaq lost 67.31, or 0.83%, to 8,089.54, and the S&P 500 declined 11.75, or 0.39%, to 2,986.20.