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What Happened in the Stock Market Today

By Dan Caplinger - Dec 14, 2018 at 4:31PM

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Find out how sluggish Chinese growth affected two popular companies.

U.S. stocks lost ground to finish the week on Friday, as market participants reacted negatively to news that growth in the Chinese economy continued to slow. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI -2.92%) and the S&P 500 (^GSPC -3.39%) both fell about 2%, and other major indexes showed similar percentage declines.

Today's stock market

Index

Percentage Change

Point Change

Dow

(2.02%)

(496.87)

S&P 500

(1.91%)

(50.59)

Data source: Yahoo! Finance

All of the S&P's sectors were down for the day, with healthcare stocks faring the worst by far. The SPDR Select Healthcare ETF (XLV -1.65%) dropped 3.4%, while SPDR Select Utilities ETF (XLU -0.33%) managed to see the smallest losses at just 0.2%.

Among high-profile stocks in the limelight today, both Starbucks (SBUX -3.19%) and Tesla (TSLA -6.97%) saw their shares decline following strategic moves to try to take advantage of the Chinese market, despite its slowing growth.

Starbucks looks to heat up in China -- but a little more slowly

Starbucks stock finished lower by 2.4% as investors in the coffee giant reacted to its plans to expand within the Chinese market. As explained at its investor day presentation late Thursday, the company's strategy includes almost doubling its presence within the emerging market, adding about 600 stores per year between now and 2022 to end up at more than 6,000 stores in 230 different cities. It will also keep working with Alibaba Group on a digital partnership that CEO Kevin Johnson believes will boost sales even further.

Two people at a coffee roaster in a building with exposed pipes in the ceiling.

Image source: Starbucks.

Yet Starbucks also tried to rein in future expectations. It believes that long-term growth in earnings will be about 10% annually, down from its previous 12% forecast. It also sees comparable-store sales slowing down, with just 1% to 3% growth in China comparing unfavorably to 3% to 4% in the U.S. market. Shareholders were especially concerned about that forecast in light of economic news signaling a further Chinese slowdown more broadly, and Starbucks will have to work hard to try to outpace its goals in order to fully satisfy investors.

Tesla cuts car prices in China

Meanwhile, shares of Tesla fell 3% after the electric-car maker made an equally interesting move in the key Chinese market. Tesla announced that due to the Chinese government's recent move to reduce tariffs on vehicle imports, the automaker cut prices on the Model S and Model X. The reductions lowered the price of Model S sedans by more than $15,000, while Model X prices were down a more modest $9,400.

Tesla has already had to deal with fallout from the trade disputes between the U.S. and China, as tariffs have put pressure on some of its financial results. Yet CEO Elon Musk appears to be hopeful that tensions can get resolved, and China remains a key component of Tesla's long-term growth strategy as the automaker looks toward global expansion.

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Stocks Mentioned

Starbucks Corporation Stock Quote
Starbucks Corporation
SBUX
$71.37 (-3.19%) $-2.35
Tesla, Inc. Stock Quote
Tesla, Inc.
TSLA
$708.55 (-6.97%) $-53.06
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return) Stock Quote
Dow Jones Industrial Average (Price Return)
^DJI
$31,700.86 (-2.92%) $-953.73
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD) Stock Quote
S&P 500 Index - Price Return (USD)
^GSPC
$3,950.31 (-3.39%) $-138.54
The Select Sector SPDR Trust - The Utilities Select Sector SPDR Fund Stock Quote
The Select Sector SPDR Trust - The Utilities Select Sector SPDR Fund
XLU
$72.15 (-0.33%) $0.24
The Select Sector SPDR Trust - The Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund Stock Quote
The Select Sector SPDR Trust - The Health Care Select Sector SPDR Fund
XLV
$129.16 (-1.65%) $-2.17

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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