This morning, news that China's economic growth is slowing more than expected is raising a lot of concern on Wall Street. As of 12:45 p.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) is down 164 points, or 1.1%, while the S&P 500 has lost 1.38% and the NASDAQ is down 1.66%.
The report that China's GDP grew a mere 7.7% during the first three months of 2013, after it grew 7.9% during the last three months of 2012 and economists forecast growth of 8%, really has investors worried. Commodities across the board are falling, but gold is faring the worst, down more than $92, or 6.15%, at the time of writing.
A few stocks are being hurt by lower commodity prices. Both of the major oil and gas components of the Dow are also falling today. Chevron (NYSE: CVX) is down 2.4%, while ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) has lost 2.2%. The price of a barrel of light crude oil has fallen 3.6% today, and unleaded gasoline per gallon is down 1.67%. The feared slowdown in China is likely the reason the price of oil is dropping. However, as we have seen in the past, the price of oil falls only briefly before moving higher again. Investors in Chevron or Exxon should ride out this temporary downturn and wait for higher prices at the pump.
Other stocks that are getting hammered by the Chinese report include Alcoa (NYSE: AA) and Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT). Both companies need strong construction markets, which China had been for years. Now that it seems the go-go days are coming to an end, each company will be faced with finding a new emerging market in which to sell its products.
In Alcoa's 10-K, which reported the company's performance during 2012, management predicted aluminum demand growth of 11% in China during 2013. In Caterpillar's most recent 10-K, the company said a large sales decrease in China during 2012 more than offset the increases in Japan and the other countries within the Asia-Pacific market. Both Alcoa and Caterpillar need a strong China if they want to sustain revenue and profit.
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