Benchmarks finished in the red on Thursday following slump in oil prices and decline in telecom stocks. Continued crude oversupply concerns and stronger dollar had a negative impact on oil prices, which in turn weighed on energy stocks. Additionally, decline in shares of Verizon following its mixed third quarter results pulled telecom stocks downward. Moreover, European Central Bank's (ECB) decision to keep interest rates unchanged boosted dollar.
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The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) decreased 0.2%, to close at 18,162.35. The S&P 500 fell 0.1% to close at 2,141.34. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index closed at 5,241.83, also losing 0.1%. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) decreased 4.6% to settle at 13.75. A total of around 6.19 billion shares were traded on Thursday, lower than the last 20-session average of 6.42 billion shares. Decliners outpaced advancing stocks on the NYSE. For 55% stocks that declined, 40% advanced.
What Weighed On the Benchmarks?
After reaching its best level in 15 months on Wednesday following a decline in domestic crude inventories, oil prices fell yesterday. Total U.S. crude inventories of 468.7 million barrels for the week ended October 14, was 5.4% more than the year-over-year figure. Moreover, doubts persist over the production cut deal between the OPEC nations mainly because of the continuous internal problems between its members.
Also, the U.S. dollar index, DXY touched 98.32, its highest level in seven months following surge in domestic existing home sales and ECB's decision to keep rates unchanged. Jump in dollar also weighed on oil prices. WTI crude fell 2.3% to $50.43 per barrel. Brent crude declined 2.5% to $51.38 a barrel. Decrease in oil prices led the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) to fall 0.1%. The Dow component, Chevron Corporation ( CVX ) lost 0.4%.
Moreover, Verizon Communications Inc's ( VZ ) shares fell 2.5% after the company's third quarter revenues missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate. Its subscribers for wireless postpaid phone fell 36,000 in contrast to an increase of 430,000 year-over-year. However, its earnings per share beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate. (Read More: Verizon Posts Mixed Q3: Earnings Beat, Revenues Lag )
Declines in Verizon led the telecom sector in the S&P 500 to fall 2%, its largest decline in last five weeks. Some of its key holdings including AT&T, Inc. ( T ) and Level 3 Communications, Inc. ( LVLT ) lost 1.9% and 0.2%, respectively. Both the two companies possess a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.
Further, ECB kept rates unchanged as expected, but President Mario Draghi's comments resulted in an uncertainty in the markets. Draghi said that the policy makers "didn't discuss tapering or the intended horizon of our asset purchase program."
Economic Data on Focus
In economic news, initial claims increased last week by 13,000 to 260,000, matching the highest level in six-week and was also higher than the consensus estimate of 254,000. However, sales of existing homes rose 3.2% in September from August to a seasonally adjusted rate of 5.47 million, according to the National Association of Realtors.
Stocks That Made Headlines
Crown Castle International Corp. ( CCI ) reported mixed financial numbers in the third quarter of 2016, wherein the top line outpaced the Zacks Consensus Estimate while the bottom line fell short of the same. ( Read More )
Rite Aid Corporation ( RAD ) and Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. ( WBA ) have jointly agreed to postpone the deadline for the mega-merger to Jan 27, 2017, three months later than the planned deadline of Oct 27, 2016. ( Read More )
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