The S&P 500 was down 0.93%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.07%, and the Nasdaq fell 0.93%. Stocks had halved losses by the end of the session.
Deutsche Bank shares plummeted on reports around 10 hedge funds have limited their exposure to the bank. Reports from CNBC have yet to be confirmed. Deutsche has been under the hammer since receiving a $14 billion fine for mortgage-backed securities from the U.S. Justice Department earlier this month. Deutsche Bank fell to an all-time low after closing with losses of 6%.
Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf was under Capitol Hill scrutiny again on Thursday, arguing that there had been no "orchestrated effort" of customer fraud. The bank has been under pressure to explain and correct a recent scandal wherein its retail-banking division created up to 2 million unauthorized customer accounts to meet sales targets. The bank has since agreed to a $185 million settlement with government officials over a sales fraud investigation.
Stumpf also said the bank would discontinue all sales goals by the end of the week. Stumpf told the House Financial Services Committee the bank no longer needed those targets to grow.
Wells Fargo could be in for even more trouble on reports the Justice Department is preparing to sanction the bank over repossessing cars owned by military members. The bank could be hit with a fine as large as $20 million for alleged violations of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.
Late Wednesday, California State Treasurer John Chiang implemented a number of sanctions against Wells Fargo as punishment for unethical sales practices. The year-long sanctions suspend Wells Fargo from certain activities, including underwriting state debt.
Wells Fargo shares fell 2%.
The health care sector was the another poor performer on markets Thursday, dragged down by Mylan (MYL) - Get Report which remains under fire for its EpiPen pricing controversy. Three members of the Senate Judiciary Committee accused the company of classifying its life-saving device as "generic" instead of branded to reduce Medicaid payments. The charge would put Mylan in violation of the False Claims Act. The stock fell by more than 4%.
Other health care stocks were also lower on Thursday, including Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) - Get Report , Pfizer (PFE) - Get Report , Merck (MRK) - Get Report , Amgen (AMGN) - Get Report and AbbVie (ABBV) - Get Report . The Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLV) - Get Report slid by almost 2%.
Crude oil climbed on Thursday, adding to big gains seen on Wednesday, even as traders questioned how much of an impact a deal among Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries would have on an oversupplied market. OPEC agreed to limit oil production to 32.5 million barrels a day following a three-day energy meeting in Algeria. Members had shown reluctance to agree to any deal and cede market share.
"Let's not forget non-OPEC producers who would not be subject to any such agreement if it were indeed actually ratified," Stephen Guilfoyle, chief market economist at Stuart Frankel & Co., wrote in a note. "Curtailing output could just be handing over market share to others who will gladly seize it."
West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed up 1.34% to $47.68 a barrel on Thursday, its highest level in a month. Technical analyst Helene Meisler of Real Money, TheStreet's premium site for active traders, writes that a sustained move upward for oil would help the S&P 500 break out of a trading range that it's been stuck in since July. Click here to check out her latest technical read of the market.
The U.S. economy grew at a faster pace than originally expected, according to the final estimate of second-quarter GDP growth. The economy grew 1.4% over the quarter, up from 1.1% growth previously estimated. Consumer spending, which contributes to two-thirds of the economy, increased 4.3% over the quarter.
A train crashed into the Hoboken, N.J., train station on Thursday morning, killing at least one person and injuring around 100, according to authorities. New Jersey Transit tweeted earlier that NJ Transit rail service and PATH train service would be suspended at the station until further notice. Hoboken is a hub for many workers on Wall Street.
Pier1 Imports (PIR) - Get Report rose more than 5% after reporting a narrower-than-expected loss in its recent quarter. A net loss of 5 cents a share was a penny less than the loss analysts had expected. The homewares retailer anticipates a sales decline of 2% to 4% in its third quarter.
ConAgra (CAG) - Get Report increased 7% after swinging to a quarterly profit. Adjusted earnings of 61 cents a share came in far higher than an expected 48 cents. Sales were weaker with grocery and snacks falling 5.4% and refrigerated and frozen products dropping 8%.
Anheuser-Busch (BUD) - Get Report fell more than 1% on Thursday after U.S. officials levied a $6 million fine to settle an investigation into its Indian operations. The Securities and Exchange Commission charged the beer company with making improper payments to government officials in India. Technical analyst Bruce Kamish of Real Money, our premium site for active traders, writes that he'll remains positive on BUD unless the stock -- which was trading at $131.66 at last check -- pulls back to $126. Click here to read his take on the stock.
Viacom (VIA.B) and CBS (CBS) - Get Report were on watch after National Amusements officially called upon the two companies to consider a merger agreement. News broke on Wednesday that the Sumner Redstone firm, the controlling shareholder of both companies, had been orchestrating negotiations between the boards.