Here Are 4 Hot Things to Know About Stocks Right Now

  • With losses in February, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 snapped a monthly winning streak that stretched back to 1959.
  • It was the Dow's first losing February since 2009.
  • The Dow remains more than 2,000 points below its all-time high reached on Jan. 26.
  • The Nasdaq's decline in February of 1.9% was its biggest monthly decline since October 2016. 

Wall Street Overview

Stocks closed sharply lower on Thursday, March 1, as Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell testified before the Senate Banking Committee and President Donald Trump said the U.S. would impose tariffs next week on steel and aluminum

The Dow finished down 420 points, or 1.68%. The S&P 500 slid 1.33% and the Nasdaq was down 1.27%. Stocks had fluctuated for most of the trading day but took a dive quickly after Trump made his announcement on tariffs. At one point the Dow was down by as much as 586 points.

Much of the pullback in stocks this week continued to stem from comments Powell made on Tuesday, Feb. 27, when he may have hinted at more rate hikes in 2018 than initially anticipated.

On Thursday, Powell said the central bank's monetary-policy committee will keep the economy from overheating, adding to speculation over rising interest rates that have rattled markets. 

Powell said Thursday the Federal Open Market Committee, which has raised interest rates five times since late 2015, will "strike a balance between avoiding an overheated economy" and allowing inflation to rise.

Shares of steelmakers, such as U.S. Steel Corp. (X) - Get United States Steel Corporation Report and AK Steel Holding Corp. (AKS) - Get AK Steel Holding Corporation Report , jumped after Trump said Thursday the U.S. would impose tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports.

Best Buy Co. (BBY) - Get Best Buy Co., Inc. Report posted fiscal fourth-quarter adjusted earnings of $2.42 a share, well above forecasts of $2.04. The electronics retailer also provided guidance for the current fiscal year that topped estimates, and it raised its dividend. The stock jumped 3.6% on Thursday.

Kohl's Corp. (KSS) - Get Kohl's Corporation (KSS) Report  fell 5% despite the retailer posting fourth-quarter earnings and sales that beat Wall Street expectations.

TheStreet Recommends

Ford Motor Co. (F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report  said U.S sales in February fell 6.9% in February, wide than estimates that called for a drop of 6%. The stock declined 3%. Sales in the U.S. last month for General Motors Co. (GM) - Get General Motors Company (GM) Report also declined 6.9%, and the stock declined 3.9%.

Ford is all about the trucks.

Walmart Inc. (WMT) - Get Walmart Inc. Report   will raise the age limit for purchases of firearms and ammunition to 21, and will implement the change as soon as possible. The action follows Dick's Sporting Goods Inc. (DKS) - Get Dick's Sporting Goods, Inc. Report  move earlier Wednesday to  no longer sell assault-style rifles in its 853 stores and online. Dick's also will halt sales of high-capacity magazines and won't sell guns to anyone under the age of 21, regardless of local law.

Walmart shares fell 1%. Inc. (CRM) - Get, inc. Report posted fourth-quarter earnings that topped estimates and issued guidance for the first quarter and next fiscal year that also came in higher than forecasts. The stock rose 2.6%.

L Brands Inc.  (LB) - Get L Brands, Inc. (LB) Report declined 13% after the parent of Victoria's Secret issued a first-quarter forecast that was below Wall Street's predictions. Inc. (OSTK) - Get, Inc. Report dropped 4.8% after it disclosed the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating the company over its cryptocurrency operations.

In U.S. economic data, jobless claims in the week ended Feb. 24, fell to their lowest level since 1969. Initial U.S. jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 210,000 last week.

The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index rose to 60.8 in February, the highest level since May 2004.

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