Skip to main content

Stocks were on track to break a five-week winning streak Thursday as crude oil fell even further from its recent highs.

The S&P 500 was down 0.4%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.4%, and the Nasdaq slid 0.29%.

Equities markets have closed higher for the past five weeks, though they are unlikely to clinch a sixth. The S&P 500 and Dow have suffered three straight days of losses, pulling them back into negative territory for the year.

Crude oil pared losses, though remained in the red, after weekly data showed the number of active U.S. oil rigs fell by 15 to 372. However, worries over supply continued, prompted by a weekly read on domestic crude oil inventories released on Wednesday that showed a far steeper increase than anticipated.

Oil recently hit its highest level of the year on hopes of a production freeze among major oil-producing countries, though negotiations are on pause until an April meeting. West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell 0.6% to $39.54 a barrel.

U.S. durable goods orders fell 2.8% in February, a slightly slower pace than an estimated 3% decline. A decline in civilian aircraft orders was one of the biggest drags, while excessive inventory also pressured the headline number. Core durable orders, excluding transportation, fell 1.8%.

The number of new claims for unemployment benefits remained flat at 265,000 in the past week, below an estimated uptick to 268,000. The less-volatile four-week average showed jobless claims climb by 250 to 259,750.

The chance of an April rate hike also was keeping investors wary after comments from St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard increased the odds.

"The next rate increase may not be far off provided that the economy evolves as expected," said Bullard in prepared remarks Thursday morning.

The comments back up Bullard's remarks on Wednesday that the central bank should consider another hike at its April meeting as the economic forecasts appear unchanged and inflation and unemployment march toward their targets. The chances of an April rate hike climbed to 14% from 7% following Bullard's comments, according to CME's FedWatch futures.

Scroll to Continue

TheStreet Recommends

Financials stocks were lower on hawkish Fed talk. Wells Fargo (WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report , JPMorgan (JPM) - Get JP Morgan Chase & Co. Report , Bank of America (BAC) - Get Bank of America Corporation Report and Citigroup (C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report were all in the red, while the Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLF) - Get Financial Select Sector SPDR Report fell 1.3%. 

Wells Fargo and Bank of America are holdings in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS portfolio.

Exclusive Look Inside:
You see Jim Cramer on TV. Now, see where he invests his money and why Wells Fargo is a core holding of his multi-million dollar portfolio.

Want to be alerted before Jim Cramer buys or sells WFC?Learn more now.

Markets will be closed on Good Friday, reopening as usual on Easter Monday. Banks will remain open on Friday.

Yahoo! (YHOO) fell nearly 1% after activist investor Starboard Value confirmed reports it is calling for an overhaul of the entire nine-member board. Starboard will likely name its suggestions for replacements on Thursday morning.

Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD) added 2.6% after Goldman Sachs added it to its Conviction Buy list. Analysts said the stock has pulled back to an attractive level with the risk of increasing chicken wing prices already priced in.

PVH (PVH) - Get PVH Corp. Report climbed 6% after besting earnings estimates in its recent quarter. However, the fashion brand did forecast slightly weaker full-year results tied to a strong U.S. dollar, increased promotions, and a thrifty consumer.

Yum! Brands (YUM) - Get Yum! Brands Inc. Report reportedly is considering selling a share of its Chinese business as part of a plan by Yum! to spin off the business. The KFC owner could unload a stake as high as 20% which could net it $10 billion.

Accenture (ACN) - Get Accenture plc Class A (Ireland) Report shares were on watch after the company raised its full-year earnings outlook to $5.21 to $5.32 a share, up from a previous range of $5.09 to $5.24 a share. The professional services company also beat third-quarter earnings and sales estimates on strong growth for consulting services.

KB Home (KBH) - Get KB Home Report climbed 4% after a far better-than-expected first quarter. The homebuilder earned 14 cents a share, 3 cents above estimates, while revenue surged 17% to $678.37 million.

Terex (TEX) - Get Terex Corporation Report added 10% after construction machinery maker Zoomlion raised its offer to $31 a share, prompting a push to move forward in negotiations. Last week, Zoomlion offered Terex a deal worth more than $3.4 billion, or $30 a share in cash and $1 a share in special dividends.