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Trader Fred DeMarco works in a booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. Stock markets started the new year with a tumble, as disappointing Chinese economic data on Wednesday renewed concerns that a global trade war is weighing on growth. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Global stocks are falling to start 2019 after more shaky economic news from China. The stock market turned volatile late in 2018 as investors grew increasingly worried about threats to global economic growth, and those concerns could define the market's path new year as well.
A government survey and one by a major business magazine showed Chinese manufacturing weakened in December as global and domestic demand both cooled. That weighed on big exporters Wednesday, with technology companies like Microsoft and Netflix and industrials like Boeing and Caterpillar taking sharp losses. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 300 points.
The major U.S. indexes and the global market are coming off their worst year in a decade. The benchmark S&P 500 fell 6 percent last year, its first substantial loss since 2008, and it's fallen more than 15 percent since late September. Many other stock indexes around the world fared even worse last year as traders saw signs the global economy was growing at a slower clip after a few years of strength.
From September through the end of December, investors became more and more worried that challenges including U.S.-China trade tensions, rising interest rates, and political uncertainty could slow the economy and company profits more dramatically, and possibly tip the U.S. economy and the global economy into a recession. The U.S. economy has been expanding for almost a decade, and stocks have risen steadily over that time.
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