Stocks Opened Lower on China Trade Data

U.S. stocks began lower on Friday, after worse-than-expected Chinese trade data put investors into a risk-averse mood across the board. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 61.23 points, or 0.47%, to 13,103.96. The S&P 500 index shed 5.81 points, or 0.41%, to 1,396.99. The Nasdaq Composite lost 13.92 points, or 0.46%, to 3,004.72.

China’s trade surplus unexpectedly narrowed in July as exports barely grew from the year-earlier month and imports increased at a smaller rate, according to data released Friday. The trade surplus for the month dropped to $25.1 billion from $31.7 billion in June, falling far short of estimates for a surplus of $35.2 billion in a Dow Jones Newswires survey of economists. Exports rose just 1% from the year-ago period, while imports expanded 4.7%, compared to expectations for an 8% rise in exports and a 7% rise in imports.

U.S. import prices unexpectedly fell in July for the fourth straight month as costs declined for imported oil, industrial supplies and even many consumer goods, further icing inflation pressures. Overall import prices dropped 0.6 percent last month, the Labor Department said on Friday.

Analysts expect West Coast gas prices to rise beyond $4 a gallon after a fire knocked out a key section of one of the nation’s largest oil refineries. In all, five separate investigations will be done to determine the cause and effects of the Monday night blaze at Chevron’s Richmond refinery.

J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP) is seeing early signs of improvement from its overhaul of its stores and pricing policy, giving investors a glimmer of hope

after it reported a deeper-than-expected drop in quarterly sales and a big loss. Sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales, fell 21.7 percent in the second quarter ended July 28, steeper than the 17.4 percent drop analysts expected, according to Thomson Reuters. Total revenues tumbled 22.6 percent to $3.02 billion during the second quarter, also below Wall Street’s low expectations.

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