DJIA: 33,794.66, down 96.69
S&P 500: 4,363.49, down 23.05
Nasdaq: 13,537.94, down 214.08
Stocks slip amid weakness in tech
U.S. stocks finished lower on Thursday as Wall Street assessed the impact of higher commodity prices on inflation and the global economic outlook. The Dow slipped 96 points, while the S&P 500 lost 0.5%. The Nasdaq Composite slumped 1.6% amid weakness in tech shares. West Texas Intermediate crude fell 1.9% to $108.55/barrel, reversing earlier gains that sent the benchmark briefly above $116/barrel for the first time since 2008. Crude prices were whipsawed amid prospects an Iran nuclear deal could be reached within days, which would restore Iranian oil exports.
Central bank updates were in focus. In the final day of Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Jerome Powell’s semi-annual Congressional testimony, he noted that upward inflation pressures could persist amid the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Yesterday, Powell reaffirmed expectations for a 25-basis point (0.25%) rate hike at the upcoming March 16 policy decision, but reiterated that officials would stay “nimble.” Treasuries were mostly higher, with the yield on the 10-year note down five basis points (0.05%) to 1.85%. On the data front, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) showed U.S. services sector growth unexpectedly decelerated in February, with the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) slipping to 56.5, a one-year low.
Seven of 11 S&P 500 sectors closed in positive territory, with the traditionally defensive groups outperforming. Consumer Discretionary stocks led laggards as Amazon.com Inc. and Tesla Inc. fell 2.7% and 4.6%, respectively. In earnings, Kroger Co. climbed 11.6% to a record after unveiling a robust profit forecast. Best Buy Co Inc. rose 9.2% as the company’s improving long-term outlook overshadowed a disappointing holiday quarter.
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