Stocks are selling off

US stocks opened lower for trading on Thursday after some disappointing data out of China that showed foreign demand for its goods is weakening.

At 10:05 a.m. ET, the Dow was down 180 points (1%), the S&P 500 was down 23 points (1.1%), and the Nasdaq was down 67 points (1.3%).

Here’s some of the big news that traders are watching right now:

  • China released weak trade data overnight. According to China’s Customs Bureau, the value of exports dropped 10% in the year to September in US dollar terms, missing the forecasts for a decline of 3.0%. The country devalued its currency to try and boost foreign demand, and the yuan has weakened against the US dollar, but that doesn’t appear to be working.
  • The Federal Reserve released the minutes of its meeting in September on Wednesday. They showed that some members of the Federal Open Markets Committee, which makes policy decisions, were firmly in favour of an interest-rate hike in September and thought that rates should rise “relatively soon.” Hawkish talk from the Fed makes some investors nervous partly because companies may soon face higher borrowing costs.
  • The Thai baht strengthened following news that King Bhumibol Adulyadej has died. The currency had fallen amid reports of his health. He was the world’s longest-reigning monarch.

Only the utilities and real estate sectors of the S&P 500 were positive. The financials sector was the biggest laggard on the index, down 1.8%. JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup will report third-quarter earnings ahead of the opening bell on Friday.

Following a steep sell-off on Tuesday, the decline in early trading pushed stocks to the lowest level since early July.

In US economic data, initial jobless claims were unchanged last week at 246,000 after a downward revision to the prior month’s print.

The Energy and Information Administration will release its weekly numbers on oil inventories at 11 a.m ET. They’re forecast to show the first rise in crude oil inventories in six weeks. On Wednesday, the American Petroleum Institute said inventories rose by 2.7 million barrels last week, more than expected.

West Texas Intermediate crude futures were little changed in early trading, near $50.16 per barrel.

In earnings, Delta Air Lines reported better-than-expected profits for the third quarter after it slowed its flight-capacity growth.

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