Stocks closed lower Thursday, paring earlier losses, as investors adjust to mixed economic data, crude inventories increased, and financial stocks fell.
The S&P 500 fell 0.02%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.06%, and the Nasdaq declined 0.12%. Financial stocks pulled the Dow further away from its 20,000 mark, with Goldman Sachs (GS) - Get Report falling nearly 1% and JPMorgan Chase (JPM) - Get Report down 0.72%, while the entire financial sector led markets lower. The KBW Nasdaq Bank Index, which tracks the performance of banks, was down 1%.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration's weekly petroleum status report showed that last week crude oil inventories rose by 600,000 barrels, less than estimated.
West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed lower, dropping by 0.5% to $53.77 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, the global benchmark, traded at $56.14, down 0.14%. Crude oil prices had seen gains as investors anticipate a decrease in the global production of oil based on an earlier agreement by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, but turned negative.
The final jobless claims report of 2016 said that a seasonally adjusted 265,000 new unemployment claims were filed last week, a decrease of 10,000 from the prior week. In the previous week, 275,000 new unemployment claims were filed, according to the Department of Labor. This is the 95th consecutive week that new jobless claims have been fewer than 300,000, the longest such streak since 1970.
The U.S. Census Bureau said that the trade deficit increased to $65.3 billion in November, up 5.5% from the deficit of $61.9 billion in the prior month. The jump in the trade deficit is a sign that the the U.S. is importing more than it is exporting, with more U.S. money held overseas.
The Dow has moved further away from the 20,000 milestone that investors have been eyeing over the last two weeks. Since the election of Donald Trump, markets have been buoyed on hopes of lighter regulation and tax cuts, but the end of the post-election rally could be at hand as the year comes to a close.
"If we were to approach 20,000, but not break through it, a lot of people would look at that as a bearish sign," said David Schiegoleit, U.S. Bank managing director of investments, in a phone interview. "I think some people could interpret that as a bearish signal, that we're kind of topping out at least in the short run."
"Again, the 20,000 is nothing technical, it's simply a sentimental number," Schiegoleit added.
Sprint (S) - Get Report shares popped after the company announced Wednesday that it was going to "create or bring back" 5,000 jobs to the U.S. in 2017. This announcement was part of an earlier plan by SoftBank, which owns more than 80% of Sprint, to create 50,000 jobs and invest $50 billion in U.S. companies. Sprint's shares rose 1.1% to $8.81.
Nvidia's (NVDA) - Get Report rose 1.9% even after Citron Research wrote on Twitter Wednesday that the shares were overvalued. The company wrote that the market "is disregarding headwinds" and that "in 2017 we will see $NVDA head back to $90." The computer chipmaker's shares recovered after being down most of the day, and have risen 218% this year so far.
Endologix (ELGX) - Get Report jumped 11% to $5.90 after the aortic disorder-treatment developer said that it would resume shipments of AFX, one of its best-selling devices, citing "positive testing results." This comes after the stock tumbled earlier this week, when the company said it would suspend shipments to investigate a manufacturing problem with certain sizes of the product.
Sears Holdings (SHLD) announced Thursday that it received a "secured standby letter of credit facility," which will provide it extra liquidity of up to $300 million. Sears rose 10% following the news.
Cempra (CEMP) shares plummeted 57% after the FDA said that it cannot approve the company's new drug applications for solithromycin, a drug used to treat community-acquired bacterial pneumonia, or CABP, in adults.
Kate Spade (KATE) shares whipsawed on Thursday, falling initially, but finishing up 3.5%, after jumping as much as 23% the previous day following a Wall Street Journal report that the apparel and accessories company is working with bankers on potentially selling the company.
General Cable (BGC) was fined close to $82.3 million by the Securities Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice to close investigations into violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the company announced Thursday. Shares of General Cable were flat on Thursday.