Market Wrap for Thursday, February 28: Stocks close Little Changed
The stock market was little changed on Thursday as investors evaluated mixed economic reports.
Jobless claims data and Chicago PMI was positive, but a second Q4 GDP estimate showed that the economy only grew 0.1 percent in the fourth-quarter. The market was also held back by a falling euro and rising greenback.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 21 points, or 0.15 percent, to 14,054.
The S&P 500 lost a little more than a point, or 0.09 percent, to 1,515.
The Nasdaq finished the session down 2 points, or 0.07 percent, to 3,160.
Initial jobless claims fell from 366,000 for the week ending February 16 to 344,000 for the week ending February 23. This was below consensus estimates calling for a decline to 360,000.
Continuing claims fell from 3.165 million for the week ending February 9 to 3.074 million for the week ending February 16. This was also better than the consensus estimate calling for a decline to 3.150 million. The data was the best initial claims reading since June 2008.
The advance estimate for fourth-quarter GDP showed a contraction of 0.1 percent in growth. The second estimate showed that GDP increased by 0.1 percent which was less than consensus estimates that expected an increase to 0.5 percent.
Manufacturing activity in the Chicagoland region rose in February. Chicago PMI increased from 55.6 in January to 56.8. This was much better than the consensus which called for a decrease to 54.0.
Crude oil fell on Thursday along with equity prices. Late in the session, NYMEX crude futures had lost a little less than 1 percent to $91.91. Brent contracts lost 0.66 percent to $111.13. Natural gas rallied, however, notching a gain of 1.51 percent to $3.49.
Precious metals also lost ground on the day with gold trading down a little more than 1 percent to $1,577.80. Silver futures were last down almost 2 percent to $28.47.
Most of the grains traded higher on Thursday. Corn added more than 1 percent while wheat was up 0.35 percent. In soft commodities, both sugar and orange juice futures added around 2 percent.
Late in the equity trading session, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE: TLT) had added around 0.20 percent to $118.50. Yields fell on the day, with the exception of the 2-Year Note which was flat.
The 5-Year and 10-Year Note yields lost two basis points to 1.89 percent while the 30-Year Bond yield fell one basis point to 3.09 percent. Currencies
The U.S. dollar rallied on Thursday. Near the equity close, the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE: UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, had risen 0.54 percent.
The closely watched EUR/USD fell 0.43 percent to $1.3079. The only other notable currency mover was the USD/CAD which added 0.52 percent.
Volatility and Volume
The VIX rose slightly on Thursday, adding 1.63 percent to 14.97.
Volume was lower than normal with around 99 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE: SPY) shares trading hands compared to a 3-month daily average of 135 million.
Shares of struggling retailer J.C. Penney (NYSE: JCP) fell around 17 percent after the company reported a Q4 loss of $552 million.
Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) lost nearly 10 percent after the company's fiscal fourth-quarter earnings results.
BroadSoft (NASDAQ: BSFT) plunged 32 percent on the day after the company reported Q4 earnings results and provided a weak forecast.
Daily deals website Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN) saw its share price decline more than 24 percent after the company reported a $81 million loss in the fourth-quarter.
Mylan (NASDAQ: MYL) shares climbed almost 4 percent after its Q4 earnings rose 25 percent.
Herbalife (NYSE: HLF) surged almost 8 percent after the company announced that it will add two representatives designated by activist investor Carl Icahn to its board.
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