NEW YORK – U.S. stocks fell broadly Thursday after a report from China added to growing signs that the world’s second-largest economy is slowing. The selling spared few companies, even those reporting solid earnings.
“It’s pretty ugly,” said Randy Frederick, a managing director of active trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. “When you’ve got a market that’s near record highs ... people are looking for any excuse to take profits.”
In the Standard and Poor’s 500 index, nine of 10 companies dropped.
Stocks fell from the start of trading after an HSBC survey of Chinese manufacturing fell to the lowest point since July and suggested that the country’s factory sector was shrinking. Earlier this week, China reported its slowest annual economic growth since 1999.
The Dow closed down 175.99 points, or 1.1 percent, at 16,197.35. The S&P 500 lost 16.40 points, or 0.9 percent, to 1,828.46.
Fearful investors poured money into U.S. government debt securities, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 2.78 percent from 2.86 percent late Wednesday. That was the lowest since Nov. 29. Yields fall on bonds when their prices rise.
The price of gold, another safe-play asset, rose $23.70, or 1.9 percent, to $1,262.30 an ounce.
Investors seem more focused on the global economy and on projections from companies for the coming year.
“The guidance has been very guarded, and analysts are not lifting their numbers for 2014,” said David Bianco, head U.S. stock strategist at Deutsche Bank.
United Continental fell 75 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $48.43 after its prediction for revenue growth this quarter disappointed investors.
The pullback comes after a stellar run for stocks last year. The Dow rose nearly 27 percent and the S&P, nearly 30 percent.
“The market at these levels is a bit skittish,” said James Dunigan, chief investment strategist at PNC Wealth Management. He added that “any kink in the growth story ... is going to give investors pause.”
Some companies bucked the selling tide. Netflix surged $54.99, or 17 percent, to $388.72, the biggest gain in the S&P 500. After trading ended Wednesday, the streaming video company reported fourth-quarter earnings had climbed sixfold and that it had added 2.3 million subscribers during the period.
Technology stocks fell less than the rest of the market. The Nasdaq composite declined 24.13 points, or 0.6 percent, to 4,218.87.
Among other stocks making big moves:
• American Eagle Outfitters dropped $1.12, or 8 percent, to $13.19 after announcing the unexpected departure of its CEO, Robert Hanson. The teen retailer reported disappointing sales for the holiday season.
• Union Pacific rose $5.62, or 3 percent, to $174.12 after reporting a 13 percent jump in fourth-quarter earnings, beating analyst forecasts.
• Nokia plunged 67 cents, or 9 percent, to $7.03 after posting a fourth-quarter loss on falling handset sales. The mobile phone business is part of the device and services unit that the Finnish company has agreed to sell to Microsoft.
• Microsoft climbed $1.50, or 4 percent, to $37.55 in after-hours trading. After the market closed, it reported earnings that topped analyst estimates on strong sales of Xbox One consoles and Surface tablets.