by Marc Bastow | April 23, 2012 5:27 pm
A growing scandal at Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), fresh worries about the economy in Europe and new concerns about productivity in China combined to hamper the markets Monday despite a late-afternoon rally that cut losses by the end of the session.
The Dow finished down 0.78% to finish at 12,927.17, the Nasdaq fell 1% to 2,970.45, and the S&P fell 0.84% to 1,366.94.
Wal-Mart’s troubles began during the weekend with the New York Times report about how in 2005, top executives at Wal-Mart heard about allegations of bribery of Mexican officials, possibly totaling $24 million over hundreds of payments — but didn’t take any action either against the employees, and did not notify U.S. or Mexican law officials.
Wal-Mart stock dropped nearly 5% on the day, the largest drop among the Dow 30 stocks.
Meanwhile, manufacturing activity in the eurozone’s 17 countries recently slumped to the lowest level in nearly three years, according to the Purchasing Managers’ Index. Orders for new goods have been falling and in April factories slashed jobs at the fastest rate since early 2010.
China’s manufacturers also continued to see their business shrink in April, according to data compiled by HSBC (NYSE:HBC) and Markit.
Earnings reports posted by Xerox (NYSE:XRX), ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) and Kellogg (NYSE:K) were mixed.
Kellogg’s shares plummeted 6% after the cereal company cut its outlook, citing the slowdown in Europe and a charge related to its Pringles acquisition. Xerox reported adjusted earnings of 23 cents a share, unchanged from a year earlier and matching forecasts, and its shares closed up fractionally. ConocoPhillips posted improved earnings of $2.02 a share, but it fell short of forecasts of a $2.08 a share, and finished down less than a percent.
In after-hours earnings releases, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) officials said customer growth could slow after reporting first-quarter sign-ups that met analysts’ estimates. The stock was down more than 4% as of this writing.
Tomorrow’s notable earnings reports include AT&T (NYSE:T), Hershey Foods (NYSE:HSY), 3M (NYSE:MMM), Norfolk Southern (NYSE:NSC) and the after-hours blockbuster, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).
Marc Bastow is an assistant editor of InvestorPlace. As of this writing, he was long AAPL.
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