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Market Recap: Stocks Trade Lower as China Predicts Slower Growth

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Markets closed down on Wall Street today:

▼ Dow -0.11 percent

▼ S&P -0.39 percent

▼ Nasdaq -0.86 percent

▲ Oil +0.34 percent

▼ Gold -0.52 percent

On the commodities front:

▲ Oil (NYSE:USO) up to $107.06 a barrel

Precious metals:

▼ Gold (NYSE:GLD) fell to $1,707.00 an ounce

▼ Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 1.49 percent to settle at $34.01

(Related: Here’s Why You’re Paying More at the Pump)

Today’s markets were down because:

1) ISM: The Institute for Supply Management released two major reports today that gauge economic activity in the United States. According to the first, factory orders fell in January for the first time in three months after the expiration of a tax credit at the end of last year caused businesses to reduce capital goods orders. The second report gave a cheerier picture of the economy. The service sector, which accounts for roughly two-thirds of economic activity in the U.S., reportedly grew at its fastest pace in a year during February. Also serving to alleviate fears, the ISM’s factory orders report showed that increasing demand for automobiles would likely maintain growth in manufacturing.

2) China: Stocks dipped on China’s lower growth outlook after the premier predicted the world’s second-largest economy would grow 7.5 percent this year, less than the 8 percent target set for 2011. However, investors shouldn’t put too much stock in Wen Jiabao’s words, as the Chinese economy often exceeds the government’s official objective.

Last year, the Chinese economy grew 9.2 percent. Still, Alcoa and Caterpillar were down today due to concerns that slower growth in China could pressure demand for their products.

3) Tech: While Yelp was burning up markets after its IPO last week, the stock tumbled more than 14 percent today. IBM shares hit an all-time high above $200, but the stock was rather the exception than the rule today, as tech giants like Microsoft, Google, Sina, Baidu, and even Apple found themselves trading lower as the Nasdaq fell more than 0.86 percent.

[Editor’s note: the above is a cross post that originally appeared on Wall St. Cheat Sheet.]

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