Wall St closes flat, five-week rally ends


  • Markets
  • Thursday, 24 Mar 2016

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange May 13, 2014 - Reuters

New York: US stocks broke a five-week winning streak on Thursday with a strengthening dollar weighing on commodity-related shares.

The three major indexes closed mostly flat on the day, paring losses by the session's end.

"After the run that we've had ... I think it's natural for folks to take a deep breath and take some chips off the table," said Jeff Buetow, president of BFRC Services in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 13.14 points, or 0.08%, to 17,515.73, the S&P 500 lost 0.77 points, or 0.04%, to 2,035.94 and the Nasdaq Composite added 4.64 points, or 0.1%, to 4,773.51.

Stocks began to dip this week after comments by US Federal Reserve officials, who raised expectations for more interest rate hikes in coming months than investors expected. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard was the latest to join a chorus of officials who highlighted the chance of at least two rate rises this year.

The possibility of more interest rate hikes pushed the dollar to a fifth day of gains, its best run since April. Oil and materials sectors dropped as a result.

Record crude stockpiles further weighed on oil prices.

"This market is still in some respect taking its cues from what's going on with the oil market and the dollar," said Chuck Carlson, chief executive at Horizon Investment Services.

The deadly bombing attacks in Brussels on Tuesday added to investors' uncertainty this week.

Meanwhile, the financial sector was the biggest loser, falling 0.65%. UBS rated Wells Fargo stock a "sell," due to a cloudy revenue outlook and credit risks. Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup were among the biggest drags on the S&P 500 index on Thursday. Six of the 10 major S&P sectors were higher, however, led by a 1% rise in telecommunication services.

Yahoo shares rose 0.2% after activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP moved on Thursday to overthrow the entire board of the technology company.

Staples shares were up 7% at US$10.75 after a media report said a US judge rebuked the Federal Trade Commission's legal tactics in the Staples and Office Depot merger case.

NYSE advancing issues outnumbered decliners 1,532 to 1,460, for a 1.05-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, a 1.17-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

Volume was light on the last day of the holiday-shortened week. About 6.2 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the 8.0 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The S&P 500 posted 10 new 52-week highs and 1 new low; the Nasdaq recorded 20 new highs and 54 new lows.

Indexes are well off their 2016 lows, thanks largely to evidence of a reviving US economy and the recent sharp rebound in oil prices. - Reuters

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