Stocks were modestly lower on Wednesday after crude oil settled below $40 a barrel.
The S&P 500 was down 0.37%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 0.08%, and the Nasdaq slid 0.69%.
Domestic crude oil inventories increased by 9.4 million barrels in the past week, far higher than an estimated increase of 2.7 million barrels. Traders have been recently concerned over global oversupply, though hopes of a production freeze among Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has eased worries somewhat. West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed 4% lower at $39.79 a barrel on Wednesday.
Investors appeared to overcome jitters tied to a terrorist attack in Brussels a day earlier. The death toll in the two explosions in Brussels rose to 34 overnight, according to security officials, while several hundred more are injured. Brothers Khalid and Brahim el-Bakraoui have been named as the suicide bombers, while third suspect Najim Laachraoui is on the run. Earlier reports erroneously suggested the third suspect had been caught. The three are suspected of being involved with the ISIS group responsible for terror attacks in Paris in November.
The terrorist attacks at Belgian transport hubs reignited global terrorism concerns Tuesday, leaving U.S. markets drifting around Tuesday's closing levels. The S&P 500 ended the day down 0.09%, the Dow slid 0.23%, and the Nasdaq gained 0.27%.
Trading was also slightly quieter on Wednesday in a holiday-shortened week. Markets will be closed on Good Friday, reopening as usual on Easter Monday. Banks will remain open on Friday.
New home sales bounced in February, recovering slightly from seasonal weakness suffered over a late winter. Sales of newly built, single-family homes rose 2% to 512,000 in February, according to the Commerce Department. Worryingly, most of the gains were concentrated to the West with gains of nearly 39% in the region. Elsewhere, sales declines ranged from 4% to 24%.