Benchmarks ended Thursday's trading session on a mixed note.
The S&P 500 and Dow ended in the green after the Central Bank
of United Kingdom and the European Central Bank kept key lending
rates unchanged. Investors also focused on a drop in initial
claims. The slight gains helped S&P 500 to move up to another
record high; the 50
instance in 12 months. The Nasdaq on the other hand was dragged
down by biotechnology stocks.
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Ahead of Wall Street
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 0.4% to close
Thursday's trading session at 16,421.89. The Standard & Poor
(S&P 500) rose 0.2% to finish at 1,877.03. However, the
tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.1% to 4,352.13. The
fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) moved up 2.3% to settle at
14.21. Total volume on the New York Stock Exchange was 3.3
billion shares. Declining stocks were outnumbered by advancing
stocks on the NYSE. For 42% stocks that declined, 55% advanced.
US stocks began the day on an upbeat note following comments from
the Bank of England and the European Central Bank. ECB kept the
refinancing rate at a record low of 0.25% and the deposit rate at
0%. The Bank of England followed in ECB's footsteps and kept the
interest rate at a record low of 0.5%. The Central bank of United
Kingdom also made no changes to its $627 billion
However, the Nasdaq slipped on Thursday due to declines in
Bio-tech stocks. The fall in Bio-tech stocks weighed heavily on
the Health Care sector. The Health Care Select Sector SPDR (NYSE:
) deceased 0.6%. Key stocks from the sector such as Pfizer Inc.
), Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:
), Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ:
), Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:
) and UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:
) plunged 0.9%, 3.6%, 1.6%, 1.9% and 0.5%, respectively.
On the economic front, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that
seasonally adjusted initial claims dropped 26,000 to 323,000 in
the week ending March 1. The drop was more than the consensus
expectations of initial claims declining to 335,000.
Separately, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that
nonfarm business sector labor productivity rose 1.8% in the
fourth quarter. The increase was less than the consensus
expectation of 2.4%. This rise in fourth quarter productivity
level was short of the 3.5% rise in the third quarter of 2013.
The unit labor cost dropped 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2014.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, new orders for
manufactured goods dropped 0.7% to $483.0 billion in January. The
drop was more than the consensus expectation of a decline of
0.5%. The 0.7% decline came after the same had dropped 2% in
Seven out of ten sectors of the S&P 500 ended in green. The
Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) led the gains as the sector rose
0.7%. Top holdings from the sector such as Chevron Corporation
), Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:
), Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:
), EOG Resources, Inc. (NYSE:
) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:
) increased 0.4%, 0.8%, 0.2%, 0.3% and 0.1%, respectively.
The Industrial sector closely followed the Energy sector. The
Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI) gained 0.6%. Key stocks from
the sector such as General Electric Company (NYSE:
), United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:
), The Boeing Company (NYSE:
), Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE:
) and 3M Company (NYSE:
) soared 1.1%, 0.3%, 0.1%, 0.8% and 0.2%, respectively.