1. Chinese manufacturing takes a hit
China's manufacturing sector shrank for the first time in six months. The Purchasing Managers' Index of China came in at 49.6 for January (anything below 50 indicates contraction). China's economy has buzzed at a whopping 7%-10% growth for many years now and would make General Tso proud, and this ugly blemish on the growth record caused broad losses for U.S. stocks.
China is still the growth engine of the global economy -- it's like Beyonce driving Destiny's Child record sales. Trillions of dollars of cheap goods -- and whatever fancy technology you're reading this on -- are all manufactured across the Pacific, so the news could indicate weakening demand from more developed countries. That's a bad sign for stocks relying on profit growth.
The Red Plague spread across all markets. Investors in global markets switched into lock-down mode, i.e. sell your risky stuff and buy safe stuff. Stocks and assets in emerging markets lost value Thursday in the sell-off, and safe-havens like U.S. government bonds gained value.
2. McDonald's ends 2013 with tasteless earnings
It's opening 1,000 stores in 2014, so you better get the Starbucks app to speed up your purchase, or the whole world will hate you. Starbucks is doing so well, people are buying Starbucks gift cards more than ever, with $1.4 billion of the $4.2 billion revenues put on gift cards.
Starbucks sales jumped in the fourth quarter like clockwork. Traditionally, holiday shoppers needed their Starbucks double-shot espressos in seasonal red cups to push them across the finish line. Online shopping, though, dulled this spike in fourth-quarter sales. The CFO wasn't thrilled about this new development hampering coffee demand, but assured investors that "you can't buy a cup o' Starbucks online."
- Fourth Quarter earnings from Samsung and Kia
Three stocks to own forever
As every savvy investor knows, Warren Buffett didn't make billions by betting on half-baked stocks. He isolated his best few ideas, bet big, and rode them to riches, hardly ever selling. You deserve the same. That's why our CEO, legendary investor Tom Gardner, has permitted us to reveal The Motley Fool's 3 Stocks to Own Forever. These picks are free today! Just click here now to uncover the three companies we love.
Fool contributor Nick Martell has no position in any stocks mentioned. Fool contributor Jack Kramer has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends McDonald's and Starbucks. The Motley Fool owns shares of McDonald's and Starbucks. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.