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U.S. stocks closed lower Monday as investors turned cautious at the start of a busy week packed with earnings, economic data, a Federal Reserve meeting and a new round of U.S-China trade talks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 208.98 points, or 0.8%, to end at 24,528.22, with the S&P 500 index slipping 20.91 points, or 0.8%, to 2,643.85. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 79.18 points, or 1.1%, to finish at 7,085.68.
European markets also closed lower, as investor jitters return ahead of a big week of decisions on Brexit and earnings disappointment weighed on markets across the Atlantic. The Stoxx Europe 600 lost 1% to close at 354.38 with Germany’s DAX 30 dropping 0.6% to finish at 11,210.31. The UK’s FTSE 100 gave up 0.9% to end at 6,747.10.
Maltese stocks meanwhile built on the previous sessions’ gains, with the MSE Equity Total Return Index adding a further 0.04% to end the session at 8,827.51 points. The biggest jumps were seen by Medserv plc and RS2 Software plc, climbing 5.6% and 5% to close at €1.12 and €1.47 respectively, outweighing the losses seen in the two banks – Bank Of Valletta plc and HSBC Bank Malta plc which at €1.28 and €1.73 – losses of 0.78% and 1.7% respectively.
Caterpillar misses estimates
Shares of Caterpillar, the world’s largest heavy equipment maker, fell sharply as its quarterly profit widely missed Wall Street estimates, hit by softening demand in China and higher manufacturing and freight costs. Its full-year earnings outlook also fell short of estimates.
The Deerfield, Illinois-based company also issued a 2019 profit forecast range which, at the low end, was below the average of analysts’ expectations, adding to worries over mounting trade tensions that pummeled the heavy-equipment maker’s shares last year. Caterpillar shares tumbled 7.9 percent to $126.07 at 9:58 a.m. in New York.
U.S. Government vs Huawei
U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges against Huawei Technologies Co., China’s largest technology company, alleging it stole trade secrets from an American rival and committed bank fraud by violating sanctions against doing business with Iran. In a 13-count indictment in Brooklyn, New York, the government alleged Huawei, two affiliated companies and Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou of bank and wire fraud as well as conspiracy in connection with business in Iran.
The charges filed Monday also mark an escalation of tensions between the world’s two largest economies, which are mired in a trade war that has roiled markets. The Chinese government, which has defended the company and accused the U.S. of trying to curtail the rise of its technology industry, demanded Washington immediately revoke the arrest warrant for CFO Meng Wanzhou.
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