March 10, 2011 / 3:07 PM / 8 years ago

US STOCKS-S&P falls through technical level on growth worries

* Moody’s downgrades Spain’s sovereign debt rating

* China trade deficit grows unexpectedly

* Initial jobless claims, U.S. trade data disappoint

* Indexes off: Dow 1.6 pct, S&P 1.7 pct, Nasdaq 1.9 pct

* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US] (Updates to open)

By Chuck Mikolajczak

NEW YORK, March 10 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, with each of the major indexes dropping more than 1 percent, and the S&P fell through a key technical level, signaling further declines may be on the horizon.

A rating agency downgrade of Spain reignited euro zone debt concerns, and disappointing economic data from China and the United States heightened global growth worries.

The benchmark S&P index fell below its 50-day moving average, an indication of medium-term momentum for the market, for the first time since November.

Government data in the United States showed initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 397,000 and the trade deficit widened much more than expected in January to $46.3 billion. For details, see [ID:nN10117103]

Moody’s one-notch downgrade of Spain, based on the costs of restructuring its banks, came with a warning that further cuts were possible. The agency downgraded Greece’s debt earlier this week. [ID:nLDE7290IP]

China swung to an unexpected trade deficit in February of $7.3 billion, its largest in seven years, but economists said the drop was likely temporary. [ID:nTOE72903F]

The Spain downgrade helped lift the dollar against the euro and pushed oil prices lower, even as Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi carried counterattacks deeper into the insurgent heartland. Brent crude futures fell 1.2 percent to $114.54. [ID:nLDE72900H] and [ID:nLDE7290E5]

“Overseas issues continue to play a role in U.S. markets. The situation in Europe isn’t complete, the market continues to have concerns about sovereign credit,” said Subodh Kumar, chief investment strategist at Subodh Kumar & Associates in Toronto.

“Markets have been hoping that China would lead the recovery, but when you put this (U.S.) data with slower growth out of China, the idea that everything looks normal is going away.”

The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI dropped 199.57 points, or 1.63 percent, to 12,013.52. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index .SPX fell 22.56 points, or 1.71 percent, to 1,297.46. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC lost 51.73 points, or 1.88 percent, to 2,699.99.

Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) is partnering with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc GMCR.O to take on the fast-growing single-serve market. Starbucks gained 8.6 percent to $37.50 and Green Mountain surged 30.2 percent to $56.81. Rival Peet’s Coffee & Tea Inc PEET.O tumbled 12.9 percent to $41.85. (Additional reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

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