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Cruise stocks slide with global markets on China concerns

China's slowing economy worries investors but there's no word on cruise bookings being impacted
Cruise shares fell Thursday in what the Associated Press said was the worst US stock market performance in 18 months as another sell-off in China spread to markets in Europe and the US.

Both Carnival Corp. and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings closed 4.5% lower, while Royal Caribbean was down 3%.

Chinese stocks are having a 'wild ride' this week, as AP put it, with investors fretting about Beijing's ability to stabilize the country's slowing economy. Last week's surprise devaluation of the renminbi was aimed at making exports more competitive as joblessness is rising and wages are barely keeping up with consumer price increases.

At the same time, cruise operators have been chalking up big successes in China.

Just three weeks ago Royal Caribbean reported strength in that market, which commands pricing premiums, and expressed optimism about China in 2016 although industry capacity is climbing. During the current quarter China accounts for 11% of RCL's capacity.

At around the same time Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings indicated its decision about putting a first ship into China is likely to come earlier than anticipated. The earliest for NCLH to get into the market would be 2017, management said. CEO Frank Del Rio has noted other lines are reporting China-based ships are their most profitable 'so we want in on that action.'

In recent days there's been no word on whether bookings are being impacted by China's economic issues or if the currency devaluation is worrisome for cruise operators.

CCL closed at $49.93, down $2.37, while RCL settled at $87.29, $2.75 lower. NCLH closed at $57, off $2.72.