U.S. equity markets were lower Thursday after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned the central bank could begin tapering its asset purchase program.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 150 points, or 0.46%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were down by 0.4% and 0.78%, respectively. Dow futures had traded higher by as many as 152 points before Powell's comments.

“As we make substantial further progress toward our goals, we’ll gradually roll back the amount of Treasurys and mortgage-backed securities we’ve bought,” Powell told NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

Thursday's weakness comes despite initial jobless claims falling to a coronavirus pandemic low of 684,000 and fourth-quarter GDP being revised up to 4.3% from 4.1%.


TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %SQSQUARE INC COM206.46-7.07-3.31%PTONPELOTON INTERACTIVE, INC.101.59-0.20-0.19%TSLATESLA, INC.630.92+0.65+0.10%Powered by

Looking at stocks, tech shares that surged during the early stages of the pandemic were sharply lower with Square Inc., Tesla Inc. and Peloton Interactive Inc. among the biggest decliners.

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Elsewhere, Chinese tech companies traded in the U.S., including Alibaba Group Ltd. and Baidu Inc. were under pressure after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission began rolling out that will boot foreign companies off American stock exchanges if they do not comply with audit standards.

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Nike Inc. shares were weaker after the sneaker giant was criticized on Chinese social media for expressing its concern regarding labor camps in Xinjiang, China.

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Meanwhile, Darden Restaurants Inc. reported stronger-than-expected quarterly revenue and said that same-store sales at its Olive Garden and Longhorn Steakhouse brands have surpassed pre-pandemic levels during the second half of March. The company also announced minimum wage, including tips, will be raised to $10 per hour beginning on Monday and increased to $12 an hour by 2023.

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ViacomCBS Inc. shares were lower for a third straight day after announcing a $3 billion offering of 20 million shares of Class B common stock at $85 apiece. The prior two days of selling caused the stock to drop 30% off its all-time high closing price of $100.34.

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In mergers and acquisitions, laser maker Coherent Inc. chose II-VI’s $7 billion buyout offer, spurning a deal made with Lumentum Holdings Inc. a few weeks prior. Coherent shareholders will receive $220 cash and 0.91 II-VI shares for each Coherent share owned.

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Elsewhere, Cisco Systems Inc. was upgraded at Goldman Sachs to “buy” from “neutral” and given a $59 price target

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell $2.08 to $59.10 per barrel and gold slid $4.80 to $1,728.40 an ounce.


Overseas markets were mostly lower little changed.

Losses engulfed all of Europe’s major index with Britain’s FTSE 225 losing 1.07%, France’s CAC 40 declining 0.73% and Germany’s DAX 30 slipping 0.94%.

In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 outperformed, climbing 1.14%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index and China’s Shanghai Composite ticked down 0.1% and 0.07%, respectively.

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