(RTTNews.com) - Following the lackluster performance seen in the previous session, stocks moved mostly lower during trading on Thursday. The major averages all moved to the downside after ending Wednesday's trading mixed.
The major averages ended the day firmly in the red but well off their lows of the session. The Dow fell 83.18 points or 0.3 percent to 24,664.89, the Nasdaq slid 57.18 points or 0.8 percent to 7,238.06 and the S&P 500 dropped 15.51 points or 0.6 percent to 2,693.13.
A negative reaction to news from some well-known companies contributed to the weakness on Wall Street on the day.
Shares of Procter & Gamble (PG) moved to the downside after the consumer products giant released its first quarter results a day earlier than expected.
While P&G reported better than expected first quarter results, the company also announced it is buying the consumer health business of Germany's Merck for about $4.2 billion.
Apple (AAPL) also came under pressure after key Asian chip partner Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSM) forecast weaker than expected second quarter revenues.
On the other hand, shares of American Express (AXP) moved significantly higher after the credit card giant reported first quarter results that beat analyst estimates on both the top and bottom lines.
In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing a modest decrease in first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits in the week ended April 14th.
The report said initial jobless claims edged down to 232,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 233,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to dip to 230,000.
A separate report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia showed regional manufacturing activity unexpectedly saw a modestly faster rate of growth in the month of April.
The Philly Fed said its diffusion index for current general activity inched up to 23.2 in April from 22.3 in March, with a positive reading indicating growth in regional manufacturing activity. Economists had expected the index to dip to 20.1.
Shortly after the start of trading, the Conference Board released a report showing its index of leading economic indicators increased in line with economist estimates in the month of March.
The Conference Board said its leading economic index rose by 0.3 percent in March after climbing by an upwardly revised 0.7 percent in February.
Tobacco stocks showed a substantial move to the downside on the day, with the NYSE Arca Tobacco Index plunging by 5.2 percent. The index extended the sharp pullback seen over the two previous sessions.
Philip Morris (PM) posted a particularly steep loss after reporting first quarter earnings that exceeded analyst estimates but on weaker than expected revenues.
Significant weakness was also visible among semiconductor stocks, as reflected by the 4.3 percent slump by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index. The disappointing guidance by Taiwan Semiconductor weighed on the sector.
Housing stocks also moved sharply lower over the course of the session, dragging the Philadelphia Housing Sector Index down by 2.7 percent.
Telecom, computer hardware, biotechnology, and real estate stocks also saw considerable weakness on the day, while financial stocks showed a strong move to the upside.
In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region continued to move to the upside during trading on Thursday. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index edged up by 0.2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index jumped by 1.4 percent.
Meanwhile, the major European markets turned in a mixed performance on the day. While the German DAX Index dipped by 0.2 percent, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index both rose by 0.2 percent.
In the bond market, treasuries extended the notable decline seen over the course of the previous session. Subsequently, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, increased by 4.7 basis points to 2.914 percent.
Amid a quiet day on the U.S. economic front, trading on Friday is likely to be impact by reaction to the latest batch of earnings news.
E*Trade (ETFC) and Skechers (SKX) are among the companies releasing their quarterly results after the close of today's trading.
Before the start of trading on Friday, conglomerates General Electric (GE) and Honeywell (HON) are among the companies due to release their results.
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