Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

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Stocks declined after weak Chinese trade data fueled concerns in the U.S. and Europe about slowing global growth. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about.

Stocks Fall 

Asian stocks looked set to open mixed after a down day for  shares in the U.S and Europe. The S&P 500 fell for only the third time this month, led by technology companies after China’s slumping exports fueled worries about the growing impact of the U.S.-China trade war on worldwide growth. Drugmakers slid amid a probe by U.S. lawmakers into pricing, while PG&E plunged 54 percent after the utility said it will file for bankruptcy. Citigroup said the trading environment was starting to improve, helping to boost the bank’s stock and other financial shares. The 10-year Treasury yield pared an early decline to trade little changed, while the dollar fell against most major currencies. 

Citi Ties Loss to Asian Fund 

Citigroup Inc. said its employees didn’t go beyond the bank’s risk limits with loans to an Asian hedge fund that hurt fixed-income results in the fourth quarter. The bank indicated that it took a charge of $100 million to $200 million for losses tied to the loans. Chief Financial Officer John Gerspach told reporters on a conference call Monday that the loss hasn’t been realized yet, and some of the charge may be reversed. The loans were made in accordance with Citigroup’s risk appetite, he said. “We are a bank, we do take risk and, at various points in time, there are losses associated with the risk that we take,” Gerspach said on the call. “We’ve had these situations in the past. I can’t predict how this one is going to turn out.”

China’s Trade Slump Adds Pressure

China’s exports slumped in December as a rush of orders to beat expected tariffs showed signs of fading and as domestic buyers succumbed to a worsening economic outlook.  The worse than expected figures, with exports falling 4.4 percent in December from a year earlier, set a grim domestic backdrop for China’s negotiators as they seek a deal to end the stand-off with the Trump administration. At the same time, China’s overall trade surplus with the U.S. hit a record in 2018, underscoring the political imperative to cut a deal ahead of a March 1 deadline after which U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to impose additional tariffs on Chinese goods.

China Sentences Canadian to Death 

A Chinese court sentenced a Canadian man to death on accusations of drug trafficking, a move that could escalate tensions between the two nations stemming from the arrest of a Huawei Technologies Co. executive. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg faces the death penalty for drug trafficking after a one-day trial, according to a statement posted on the website of the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court. Schellenberg was initially sentenced to 15 years in prison after his conviction, but saw the penalty increased after an appeal. He can still appeal the latest decision. “It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply’’ the death penalty, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters Monday in Ottawa.

Russia at Odds With Japan 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov  damped expectations of a breakthrough in a dispute with Japan over four islands that’s prevented the signing of a World War II peace accord, saying the two countries “still have significant differences.” The government in Tokyo must recognize Russian sovereignty over the islands, known as the South Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan, as part of the outcome of the war, before progress can be made on a peace treaty, Lavrov told reporters Monday after talks in Moscow with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono. “This is our basic position and without a step in this direction it is very difficult to count on any movement forward on other questions,” he said.

What we’ve been reading

This is what caught our eye over the last 24 hours.

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