U.S. stocks erase gains amid profit taking; Dow loses 0.15%


Investing.com - U.S. stock prices fell in the final hour of trading on Thursday, wiping out earlier gains stemming from growing sentiment that the U.S. economy is on the mend.

At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 0.15%, the S&P 500 index ended down 0.09%, while the Nasdaq Composite index slipped 0.07%.

Stock prices still managed to finish February in positive territory.

The Commerce Department reported earlier that the country's fourth-quarter gross domestic product was revised up to 0.1% from an initial estimate of a 0.1% contraction, though the figure missed expectations for 0.5% growth.

Stock prices still rose for most of the session on the news before late-session profit taking wiped out gains.

Other indicators released earlier painted a rosier picture of the U.S. economy.

The Department of Labor reported that weekly initial jobless claims dropped 22,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 344,000, compared to expectations for a decline of 6,000 to 360,000.

Elsewhere, manufacturing activity in the Chicago-area expanded faster than expected in February, hitting an 11-month high, according to industry data.

The MNI Chicago purchasing managers' index rose to a seasonally adjusted 56.8 in February from a reading of 55.6 in January, beating out analysts' calls for a February reading of 54.3.

A reading above 50.0 indicates expansion, while below indicates contraction.

Leading Dow Jones Industrial Average performers included Hewlett-Packard, up 1.87%, DuPont, up 0.91%, and Coca-Cola, up 0.75%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average's worst performers included Wal-Mart, down 1.13%, UnitedHealth Group, down 0.80%, and Procter & Gamble, down 0.72%.

European indices, meanwhile, where up.

After the close of European trade, the EURO STOXX 50 rose 0.83%, France's CAC 40 rose 0.85%, while Germany's DAX 30 finished up 0.86%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 finished up 0.55%.

On Friday, the U.S. is to round up the week with a report from the Institute of Supply Management on manufacturing activity, official data on personal spending and revised data on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to speak in San Francisco.

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