The uncertain trading that has dominated the week so far continued on Thursday, with a choppy session ending with the major averages in negative territory. Investors showed caution amid ongoing fighting in Ukraine and the lingering prospect of rising interest rates.
Looking at closing numbers, the Nasdaq dropped 214.07 to finish at 13,537.94. The Dow fell 96.69 to end at 33,794.66. The S&P 500 concluded the session at 4,363.49, a decline of 23.05.
With a slight moderation of losses going into the close, seven of the 11 S&P sectors finished higher. However, only Utilities and Real Estate showed gains of more than 1% on the session. On the downside, Consumer Discretionary led the way, falling by 2.4% on the day.
Brent crude nearly hit $120 early in the session but came down during the middle of the day. The commodity eventually fell on the day to reach levels around $111 per barrel. WTI rounded out the day below $109, losing ground on the session after touching $116 earlier Thursday’s action.
Oil prices moderated after German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said he would oppose an embargo of Russian oil and gas “because we would threaten the social peace in the republic with that,” according to Bloomberg.
Treasury yields also experienced choppy trading, spending most of the day lower by flirting with gains during the afternoon. The 10-year came down about a basis point to 1.85%. With late-day gains, the 2-year advanced nearly 2 basis points to approach 1.53%.
In economic news, jobless claims dropped to 215K last week, a two-month low. The news came a day before the government is scheduled to release its monthly jobs report, a crucial set of economic statistics.
“[Jobless] claims are headed back to the pre-Omicron lows in the wake of the collapse in cases and hospitalizations,” Pantheon Macro said in a note. “The hit was substantial, though it likely was overstated as a result of seasonal adjustment problems, but we expect it to be fully reversed by the end of this month.”
Elsewhere on the economic front, the Institute for Supply Management released its index of service performance for February. The figure disappointed forecasts.
The “index is now undershooting relative to Google mobility data, so we’re expecting a hefty rebound in March as the hit to the services sector from the Omicron Covid wave fades,” Pantheon said.
Among individual movers, Kroger is the biggest gainer in the S&P, as it hit a 52-week high after earnings.
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