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* U.S. retail sales unexpectedly fall in April
* Perrigo drops as Jefferies cuts PT
* Agilent declines after quarterly results disappoint
* Indexes down: Dow 0.58%, S&P 0.39%, Nasdaq 0.23% (Updates to open)
By Amy Caren Daniel
May 15 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Wednesday, as a clutch of weak economic data from the United States and China sparked worries of slowing global growth against the backdrop of a bitter trade dispute that has roiled financial markets.
Domestic data showed retail sales unexpectedly fell in April as households cut back on purchases of motor vehicles and a range of other goods, and another report showed declining output of cars and machinery led to a surprise fall in U.S. factory production for April.
Meanwhile data from China also showed surprisingly weak growth in retail sales and industrial output for April, adding pressure on the country to roll out more stimulus.
“It all feeds into the picture of a slowing global economy,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
“The slow patch in one place is consistent with a slow patch everywhere else. We aren’t looking at recessionary numbers, but it is a yellow flag.”
The weak data hit U.S. treasury yields, and the interest rate sensitive banking stocks fell 1.3%. The broader financial sector dropped 0.9%, the most among the major 11 S&P sectors.
Concerns that the trade dispute could be protracted and may impact the global economy have kept investors on the edge over the past couple of days, with the benchmark S&P index now 4.6% below its all-time high reached two weeks ago.
However, markets took a breather on Tuesday after U.S. President Donald Trump downplayed the trade war with Beijing and said he would talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping at a G20 Summit in Japan late next month.
Trump’s optimistic comments followed a market rout on Monday, when the S&P 500 and the Dow recorded one of Wall Street’s worst declines this year as the two sides imposed tit-for-tat tariffs.
Tariff sensitive Boeing Co declined 1.5%, while Caterpillar Inc dipped 1.4%.
Macy’s Inc reversed premarket gains to trade 0.5% lower after the department store operator said the recent hike in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods will hurt its furniture business.
At 9:49 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 149.16 points, or 0.58%, at 25,382.89. The S&P 500 was down 11.19 points, or 0.39%, at 2,823.22 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 18.11 points, or 0.23%, at 7,716.38.
Agilent Technologies Inc’s shares fell 8.5%, the most on the S&P 500, after the medical equipment maker reported quarterly results below estimates.
Perrigo Company Plc dropped 3.1% as Jefferies lowered its price target on the generic drugmaker after the company’s recent move to divest its higher margin generic pet care business.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers for a 2.47-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and a 1.99-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded four new 52-week highs and eight new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 13 new highs and 36 new lows. (Reporting by Amy Caren Daniel and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Shounak Dasgupta)