Stocks turned lower across the board Thursday as traders digested better-than-expected initial jobless claims and comments from Fed Chair Jerome Powell who reiterated concerns about the pandemic, despite progress on the vaccine front.
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POWELL ON PANDEMIC
"With the virus spreading now it could be a challenging two months," he said during a Q&A session at the European Central Bank Forum.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 300 points, while the S&P 500 drifted lower by 1%. The Nasdaq Composite, which had been higher on the day, turned lower, off 0.6%.
INITIAL CLAIMS, INFLATION DATA IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Powell's remarks followed initial jobless claims that came in at 709,000, better than the 725,000 analysts were expecting. Continuing claims came in at 6.786 million, also better than the 6.9 million that was expected.
The consumer price index (CPI) for October showed a reading of 0% rise, compared to economists' expectations of a 0.2% rise. Excluding food and energy, the CPI, a closely watched measure of inflation, was also flat month-over-month.
Earlier this week, Pfizer and BioNTech announced their vaccine is 90% effective in trials. On Thursday, BioNTech's CEO told FOX Business the vaccine is expected to have longevity in patients.
BANKS UNDER PRESSURE
Shares of bank stocks were under pressure on Thursday, including J.P. Morgan, Citigroup and Bank of America, after the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury fell, flattening the yield curve.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury now stands at 0.8%.
DISNEY, CISCO EARNINGS ON TAP
While the majority of S&P 500 companies have reported results, there are a few left to shed light on the health of their businesses, including media heavyweight Disney and networking equipment giant Cisco.
Both companies will report earnings after the close of trading. Disney will be of particular interest, given its hotel and parks business has been severely impacted by the pandemic, resulting in the company furloughing thousands of workers.
Crude oil continued its march higher, approaching the $42 per barrel level, despite inventories climbing sharply. For the week ending Oct. 31, crude stocks rose 6.786 million, compared to a drawdown of 0.913 million barrels, according to Refinitiv.
In other commodities, gold rose slightly to $1,872.60 an ounce.
European indices were also lower, with the German DAX and French CAC 40 down approximately 0.6%, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index was lower by 0.2%.