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    02.02.2016 21:09 U.S. stocks closed

    U.S. stocks retreated, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing more than 290 points, as investors shunned risk assets across the world while oil extended a selloff amid deepening concern that global growth is weakening.

    The oil rout and worries about a China slowdown have continued to roil global markets, erasing as much as $2.4 trillion from the value of U.S. equities this year. While the S&P 500 recouped some losses in the past two weeks, trimming its worst start to a year since 2009, bearish sentiment has returned. The benchmark is down almost 11 percent from its all-time high set in May.

    Investors are also assessing the campaign for the next U.S. president, after Senator Ted Cruz won Monday's Republican caucuses in Iowa in an upset over Donald Trump. Democrat Hillary Clinton held on to a narrow victory over Senator Bernie Sanders.

    Among the rationales given for the selloff in U.S. equities this year, one that is rarely mentioned is the election cycle. Research from Ned Davis Research Group shows that the final year of a two-term presidency ranks last by returns, with the S&P 500 posting a median decline of 6.6 percent since 1953.

    "More than 100 S&P 500 companies post results this week, and analysts estimate profits at index members fell 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter, better than Jan. 15 predictions for a 7 percent slump. Of those that have released financial results, 80 percent beat profit projections, while 49 percent topped sales estimates.

    Investors will be looking this week at economic releases for indications of the strength of the U.S. economy, with the government's January jobs report coming into focus on Friday. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Esther George said today recent financial turmoil was anticipated and is no reason to delay further interest-rate increases.

    George, who has consistently been among the most hawkish Fed officials, said last December's interest-rate hike, the first such move since 2006, was belated and cautioned it would be a mistake to wait too long to raise rates further.


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