NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. benchmark stock indices fell Thursday despite a decline in U.S. jobless claims. Worries about Iraq were putting a damper on the upbeat sentiment brought about by the Federal Reserve's supportive interest rate guidance on Wednesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.04% to 16,899.58, the S&P 500 dipped 0.04% to 1,956.24, and the Nasdaq fell 0.13% to 4,357.25.
Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital, said his short-term intermediate objective on the S&P 500 remains at 1,965 even as fears over the situation in Iraq grow, given that the S&P 500 and the other leading indices have not departed far from their record highs in spite of that.
Remarks from the Federal Open Market Committee infused U.S. markets with renewed vigor on Wednesday. After spending much of the morning in the doldrums, the benchmark index S&P 500 booked a new record high, fueled by the Fed's assurances this recovery still has legs. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated the world's most powerful central bank will keep interest rates low for some time even as it pared its monthly bond buying program by $10 billion to $35 billion.In Europe, stocks were staging a relief rally after the Fed's policy announcement. The instability in Iraq, however, was offsetting some of the cheerfulness. The Wall Street Journal reportedthat the Obama administration is signaling that it wants a new government in Iraq without Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, convinced the Shiite leader is unable to reconcile with the nation's Sunni minority and stabilize a volatile political landscape. Initial jobless claims for the week ended June 13, fell 6,000 to 312,000. The Philadelphia Fed's manufacturing index jumped to 17.8 in June from 15.4 in May. It's the highest reading of activity since last September. Stocks to watch Thursday include BlackBerry (BBRY - Get Report), American Apparel (APP), Oracle (ORCL), Facebook (FB), General Electric (GE), Amazon.com (AMZN) and Sony (SNE - Get Report). BlackBerry was surging 12.3% to $9.31 after reporting a narrower-than-expected first-quarter loss per share on an adjusted basis of 11 cents vs. the consensus loss per share estimate of 26 cents. The company also managed to book a small net profit of $23 million vs. a loss of $423 million in the year-earlier quarter. BlackBerry also announced on Wednesday that the Amazon Appstore will be available with the launch of the BlackBerry 10.3 operating system this fall. Sony was rising 2.8% to $16.75 after shareholders voted to back CEO Kazuo Hirai and other top executives despite the company's continuing losses. The Associated Press reported that Harai promised that "the money-losing structure" will be fixed this fiscal year once and for all, and apologized for not having acted quickly enough to changes in the business. The board of American Apparel voted to oust founder Dov Charney as chairman and notified him of its intent to remove him as president and CEO, following a contractually required 30-day period before he can be terminated. Oracle is forecast by Wall Street on Thursday to report fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of 95 cents a share on revenue of $11.48 billion. Facebook's Web site went down briefly on Thursday, affecting both desktop and mobile phone users. The stock fell 1.5% to $64.62.
General Electric will propose selling its rail signaling business to Alstom's transport arm and have Alstom remain a shareholder of its power grid business in an improved offer for the energy arm of Alstom, French daily Le Figaro reported. Shares of Amazon.com fell 1.5% to $329.23 after the company released the Fire phone, a new smartphone that will be closely tied to the products and services it sells via its new Firefly feature. It also has the ability to render images in 3-D. -- By Andrea Tse in New York June 19 Premarket Briefing: 10 Things You Should Know European Stocks Stage a Relief Rally S&P 500 Lands New Record High as Fed Says Recovery Still Has Legs