Dow retreats from records, snaps 5-day advance

U.S. stock-market indexes relinquished earlier gains, finishing lower on Thursday, with the selling pressure coming from health-care, materials sectors and telecoms sectors.

Need to know: 80s cheer for the end of year: Stocks that remind bulls of the Reagan-Volcker era

What are indexes doing?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA, -0.31%
closed 76.77 points, or 0.3%, lower at 24,508.66, retreating from the intraday high it hit earlier. Thursdays decline put an end to a five-session advance, during which the blue-chip index closed at a record for the past four.

The S&P 500 index
SPX, -0.41%
declined by 10.84 points, or 0.4%, to 2,652.01, with 10 of the 11 main sectors ending in negative territory.

The Nasdaq Composite Index
COMP, -0.28%
fell 19.27 points, or 0.3%, to 6,856.53.

The Russell 2000
RUT, -1.15%
sold off, falling 17.79 points, or 1.2%, to 1,506.68, its biggest one-day drop in more than month.

Whats driving the markets?

Details of the Republican tax deal have started to trickle out, with the big elements including a corporate tax rate of 21% and top individual rate of 27%. The corporate rate is currently 35%.

Passage uncertainty persisted, however, with Sen. Marco Rubio reportedly saying he was a no vote on the current version, without a larger expansion of the child tax credit.

Earlier support for markets from better-than-expected economic data seemed to evaporate, however. Sales at U.S. retailers climbed 0.8% in November, the start of the holiday shopping season. The increase was twice as large as the MarketWatch forecast. Separately, jobless claims fell 11,000 in the latest week, while U.S. import prices rose 0.7% in November.

The flash U.S. manufacturing PMI rose to 55 from 53.9 in November, while the flash U.S. services activity index fell to 52.4 from 54.5. Any reading above 50 indicates improving conditions.

Business inventories fell 0.1% in October.

The European Central Bank held its leading interest rate at a record low and left in place largely dovish guidance on policy moving forward. Separately, the Bank of England held key interest rates at 0.5%, as expected, in a 9-0 vote. The central bank raised rates for the first time in a decade in November.

The monetary policy updates come a day after the Federal Reserve lifted a key short-term U.S. interest rate to a range of 1.25% to 1.5%, but in a sign of caution, stuck to its earlier forecast for just three 1/4-point rate increases in 2018.

What are strategists saying?

Investors had driven up the market in anticipation of the tax cut bill passing, so any issue that looks like it will delay or stall the process is likely to hits the prices. But I would not take todays very modest losses as indicative of anything, Ian Winer, head of the equities division at Wedbush Securities.

Investors will be nervous until its done, Winer added about the passing of the tax cut bill.

Read: 3 things to watch for at Thursdays ECB meeting

Which stocks are in focus?

Shares of 21st Century Fox Inc.
FOXA, +6.50%
rose 6.5% after Walt Disney Co.
DIS, +2.75%
announced it would buy the media company in a deal valued at $52.4 billion. Shares of Disney rose 2.8%.

Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd.
TEVA, +10.19%
surged 10% after announcing additional restructuring measures, including the loss of 14,000 jobs in the next two years, and the immediate suspension of dividends and cancellation of 2017 bonuses.

Shares of Sanderson Farms Inc.
SAFM, -13.00%
dropped 13% after the poultry producer posted weaker-than-expected fiscal fourth-quarter profit.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals
VRX, -10.75%
sank 11% after J.P. Morgan downgraded the stock to underweight from neutral.

Tech shares were among the biggest boosters to the days performance. Alphabet Inc.
GOOGL, +0.58%
the parent company of Google, rose 0.8%, while Inc.
AMZN, +0.87%
was up 0.9%. Twitter Inc.

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