Stocks ended lower on Thursday, continuing a recent streak
of weakness as Russia's surprisingly harsh retaliatory measures in response to
Western sanctions raised concerns about global growth. In addition to Moscow's
ban on imports of many Western foods, following sanctions imposed for Russia's
support of rebels in eastern Ukraine, investors worried that the conflict
between Russian and Ukraine is escalating, with the downing of a Ukrainian
The declines briefly dragged the Dow below its
200-day moving average in afternoon trading. The S&P 500 is now
nearly 4 percent below the record closing high it set last month Analysts say,
while the full extent of the sanctions is still unknown, escalating tensions in Russia could
continue to spur selling in stocks.
All but one of the S&P 500's industry sectors
ended down on the day, backtracking from brief gains in the morning. Consumer
staples shares slipped 0.8 percent on Thursday, while utilities shares posted
the sole sector gains. Health insurer stocks were poor performers as well.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 75.07
points, or 0.46 percent, to 16,368.27, the S&P 500 ended down 10.67
points to 1,909.57, and the Nasdaq Composite lost 20.09 points to
Jobless claims reports lent optimism to the market in the
morning as the four-week claims average fell to its lowest level since February
2006, suggesting labor market conditions are continuing to improve. About 5.5
billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms, according to BATS exchange data,
compared with the five-day average of 6.9 billion.
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