US stock indices traded lower on Thursday as investors took in economic data showing little improvement in the labor market and weighed a rise in bond yields on concerns about potential inflation with oil prices on the rise. a 12-month high and copper prices close to a decade. An increasing pace of coronavirus vaccines, declining COVID cases, good quarterly corporate earnings and hope for a better economy in the second half of 2021 have helped lift stocks to record levels this month. But investors found little reason to push stocks even higher. .
How are equity benchmarks performing? The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.75%, sinks 253 points, or 0.8%, to reach 31,360. The S&P 500 SPX Index, -0.84%, was trading 34 points, or 0.9%, lower at around 3,897. The Nasdaq Composite COMP, -1.21%, was down 166 points at 13,800, a 1.2% drop. On Wednesday, the Dow posted its third consecutive record close, but the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite indices ended in negative territory. What drives the market? Market participants were taking in some signs of weakness in the overall US economic recovery, after weekly jobless claims hit 861,000, marking the highest level in a month and the reading for manufacturing activity was also up. below expectations. “Unemployment claims data continues to show a gloomy job market outlook with 1.38 million new claims for unemployment benefits last week, the highest number since early December,” wrote Lydia Boussour, EE’s chief economist. And Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics. on a Thursday note. “The most recent data on jobless claims is consistent with the pessimistic message of the labor market indicators earlier in the year,” the economists wrote. Meanwhile, a reading of manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region from the Federal Reserve, the Philly Fed Manufacturing Index, fell to 23.1 in February from 26.5 in the previous month. Any reading above zero indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector. The disappointing economic data was compounded by weaker-than-expected results from Walmart WMT, -5.37% early Thursday, said Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management. “Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, posted disappointing results, suggesting that the strong January for US retail sales reported yesterday may not have been enough to offset the weakness from November to December,” it said in a note from daily research. The US economy has shown signs of steady, if not rapid improvement, underlined by retail sales figures, which showed a seasonally adjusted 5.3% increase in January from the previous month, while data on the Manufacturing production has approached its best levels in a year. The data comes against the backdrop of a decline in coronavirus cases in the US, with the nation averaging 77,661 new cases per day last week, down 43% from the average two weeks ago, and so far 57.4 million Americans have been vaccinated or 17.% of the population, at a rate of 1.61 million doses a day, according to data added by Johns Hopkins University. Market participants have pointed to the progress of increased fiscal stimulus from Congress as cause for optimism for buying stocks on Wall Street. Washington lawmakers are still negotiating the terms of the president’s $ 1.9 trillion COVID aid package. The Biden administration is also expected next month to release a plan to outline its “Build Back Better” agenda that will focus primarily on infrastructure. On Wednesday, President Joe Biden presented some elements of his plans to union leaders. However, bets that the economy will eventually improve sometime this year have resurrected fears of a rapid rise in inflation, which will boost government bond yields, with the 10-year Treasury around at 1.3%, its highest level in more than a year. But the prospect of higher borrowing costs outshines risky assets as they trade at near-record levels. Meanwhile, investors were on the lookout for brutal winter conditions that are causing millions of Americans to remain without power in places like Texas as winter storms hit much of the US The weather has shaken up natural gas prices and it has pushed crude. oil values at their highest levels in more than a year. Separately, the House Financial Services Committee at noon on Thursday began questioning several of the major players in the GameStop stock saga following the public outcry against online trading platform Robinhood and decisions by Other brokers briefly restrict stock trading, including GameStop Corp. and AMC Entertainment Holdings AMC, + 3.78%. In other economic reports, a report on housing showed that building permits rose 10.4% in January to 1.88 million annual, while housing starts fell 6% last month to 1.58 million a annual rate. And a trade reading showed that US import prices rose 1.4% in January, marking the biggest increase since 2012. What stocks are in focus? Walmart Inc. WMT, -5.37% approved a $ 20 million buyback program and raised its dividend by 4 cents to $ 2.20 a share on Thursday when it released its quarterly results. The shares fell 5.2%. Shares of Marriott International Inc. MAR fell 0.6% on Thursday, after the hotel operator posted a weaker-than-expected loss and revenue for the fourth quarter as the coronavirus pandemic kept travelers away. . Shares of Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc. RIGL rose 10.5% on Thursday, after the company said it agreed to join forces with Eli Lilly and Co. LLY, -2.15% in the development of RIPK1 inhibitors to treat diseases. immunological and neurodegenerative. Shares of Hormel Foods Corp. HRL rose 1.9% Thursday, after parent company of food brands such as SPAM, SKIPPY, Hormel deli meats and chili and Applegate reported first-quarter fiscal results that beat expectations. Barrick Gold Corp. GOLD shares fell 1.3% after hitting a 10-month closing low on Wednesday, despite the gold miner reporting fourth-quarter earnings and earnings that beat expectations. Twilio Inc. TWLO shares, + 7.13%, rose 8% after the software company reported fiscal fourth quarter results. How are other assets performing? The yield on the TMUBMUSD10Y 10-year Treasury note fell 2 basis points to around 1.28% on Thursday. Bond prices move in the opposite direction to yields. ICE’s US dollar DXY index, a measure of the currency against a basket of six major rivals, lost 0.3%. Oil futures fell as power disruptions continued across the country, with the US benchmark CL.1 index slipping 0.2% to trade at $ 61.02 a barrel. GC00 gold futures were up 0.1% but held below $ 1,800 an ounce after drifting 1.5% on Wednesday. The pan-European Stoxx 600 SXXP index fell 0.8% and the London FTSE 100 index, UKX, fell 1.4%. Hong Kong HSI markets closed 1.6% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 NIK Index lost 0.2%. China’s Shanghai SHCOMP Composite Index, + 0.55%, ended 0.6% higher, while the CSI 300,000300, -0.68%, ended 0.7% lower.