U.S. Stocks Tumble on Weak China Data; Cryptocurrencies Make a Sudden Move Higher

U.S. stocks declined on Monday, with the major indexes struggling to overcome a volatile start after dismal Chinese data cast a dark shadow over global economic growth. Cryptocurrencies erased their weekend losses after bitcoin made a sudden move higher midday.

Stocks Stumble

Wall Street’s major averages settled lower by Monday’s close after spending the entire session in the red. The Dow Jones Industrial Average managed to pare its losses down to 86.11 points, or 0.4%, to close at 23,909.84. The large-cap S&P 500 Index fell 0.5% to 2,582.41. It was down as much as 1% in the early morning. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index closed down 0.9% at 6,905.91.

Earnings season began in earnest on Monday after Citigroup Inc. (C) reported better than expected quarterly profits. The big U.S. bank made $1.61 in per-share earnings on revenue of $17.12 billion. Despite beating per-share earnings by six cents, sales missed analysts’ target of $17.48.

China’s Economy Suffers Another Blow

China’s economic perils intensified last month, as exports plunged at the fastest rate in two years. Overseas shipments declined 4% annually in December, confounding expectations of a 3% gain, the General Administration of Customs reported Monday. Imports plunged 7.6% year-over-year compared with forecasts calling for 5% growth.

Beijing’s trade surplus with the United States reached its highest level in over a decade, a possible indication that trade-war fears have been overblown. China’s 2018 surplus with the U.S. jumped 17% from a year earlier to reach $323.32 billion, official data showed.

President Donald Trump told reporters on Monday that his administration is very likely to reach a new trade agreement with China. The optimism extends from last week’s bilateral talks, which went on for a day longer than planned. Both sides made important progress on the purchase of U.S. energy commodities as well as increased access to Chinese markets.

“We’re doing very well with China,” Trump told reporters Monday, according to Reuters. “I think that we are going to be able to do a deal with China.”

Cryptos Bounce

A weekend of heavy selling in the cryptocurrency market came to an abrupt end on Monday, as bitcoin and its altcoin peers pivoted sharply higher midday. Between Sunday and Monday, the cryptocurrency market capitalization rose $8 billion peak-to-trough. It was last valued at $23.9 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.

Bitcoin once again bounced off the $3,500 price floor to retake $3,700. The move higher may have staved off a more severe drop in the short term. The bears have been eyeing a sustained drop below $3,550, a long-term inflection point for the bitcoin price. At last check, bitcoin was up 4.3% at $3,709.36.

News Flash: Crypto Markets Swing Higher as Bitcoin Climbs Above $3,700

As one would expect during a bear market, altcoins and tokens quickly followed in bitcoin’s footsteps Monday afternoon. With the exception of dollar-backed stablecoins, all major cryptocurrencies reported gains. Ethereum jumped 10.3% to $128.65, where it was just shy of XRP in terms of overall market cap. The XRP price rose 4.9% to $0.3334.

Other big gainers included EOS, which rose 9.5% to $2.47, and Tron, which added 15.9% to $0.2468.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chief Editor to Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi