NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stocks gave up all gains by market close Thursday after a choppy session with no clear direction.
An earlier decline in oil and worries over Greece's future pulled equities in one direction, while better-than-expected earnings from Netflix (NFLX), Citigroup (C), Philip Morris (PM) and UnitedHealth (UNH) helped to limit losses.
The S&P 500 fell 0.08% on Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat, and the Nasdaq slipped 0.06%.
West Texas Intermediate crude reversed an earlier decline, gaining 0.6% to $56.71 a barrel to close at a new high for the year. The commodity was given a boost after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries said demand for its own crude would increase to 29.3 million barrels a day in 2015.
Greece's uncertain future continued to spook global markets after Standard & Poor's downgraded the country's credit rating to CCC+ with a negative outlook. Greece is currently barreling toward an end-of-month deadline to repay debts to European creditors. Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is set to meet with Greece's creditors this week, though German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has reportedly expressed doubts a deal can be reached by week's end.
Netflix rocketed more than 18% higher after beating earnings estimates and posting sales growth of nearly 24%. The streaming giant said it added 2.3 million U.S. members, above guidance of 1.8 million, and 2.6 million new international members, above guidance of 2.25 million, in the first quarter.
Citigroup added more than 1% after net income jumped to $1.52 a share from $1.30 a year earlier. The bank said its global consumer banking segment saw profit increase 4% to $1.73 billion, despite a 7% decline in revenue.
Philip Morris surged 8.7% after reporting quarterly earnings of $1.16 a share, 15 cents above analysts' estimates. Cigarette volume rose 1.4% in the first quarter to 198.8 billion.
UnitedHealth climbed 3.4% after posting quarterly profit above estimates. The company also raised its full-year earnings forecast as it expands on public exchanges under Obamacare.
Unilever (UL) added more than 3% after reporting a 2.8% sales increase on a constant-currency basis. The U.K.-based company's first quarter was boosted by a stronger U.S. dollar with foreign exchange increasing sales by 10.6% over the three months to March.
In IPO news, Etsy (ETSY) surged in its market debut on the Nasdaq, opening trading at $30.98 a share. Shares closed 90% higher to $30.45. The company's initial public offering was priced at $16 a share.
Party City (PRTY) opened for trading on the Nasdaq at $20.50 a share, above its IPO pricing of $17 a share. Shares gained 21.8% to $20.70.
High-frequency trading company Virtu Financial (VIRT) debuted on the Nasdaq at $23 a share, above its initial public offering price of $19. Shares closed up 20% to $22.69.
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Eric Rosengren said economic data needed to improve before the central bank begins to normalize monetary policy. Addressing an audience in London, Rosengren said the first quarter seemed to have slowed from the fourth quarter's 2.2% growth rate and the economy would have to show signs of improvement before a rate hike would be appropriate.
"It remains difficult to separate the temporary and easy to explain from the lasting and more concerning," he said. Rosengren is not a voting member of the Fed committee this year.
Construction of new U.S. homes rebounded in March, though at a slower-than-expected pace. Housing starts rose 926,000 in March from 908,000 in February. Economists were expecting housing starts of 1.04 million.
The Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index rose to a reading of 7.5 in April from 5 in March, a result indicative of improving conditions. The measure came in above estimates for a reading of 6.
Weekly jobless claims rose 12,000 to a six-week high of 294,000, according to the Labor Department. The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits was expected to remain steady at 281,000. Continuing claims, measuring the number of people currently receiving benefits, fell by 40,000 to 2.27 million in the week ended April 4, the lowest level since December 2000.