Stocks finished essentially flat Thursday. The Dow was off 14 points to 26,143 while the S&P 500 unchanged at 2,888. The Nasdaq Composite eased 16 points to 7,947.
U.S. equities were little changed as investor attention shifted to Friday’s unofficial start to first quarter earnings season. Trade negotiations remained in focus after U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the U.S. and China have “pretty much agreed on an enforcement mechanism” needed for a finalized trade pact. On the data front, U.S. producer prices ticked up 0.6% in March, the fastest pace in five months. Core PPI (ex-food and energy) increased 2.4% year-over-year in March, down slightly from February’s 2.5% reading. Separately, initial jobless claims came in at 196,000 in the most recent week, the lowest level since October 1969
HealthCare stocks underperformed as the group fell over 1.2% due to weakness in Managed Care companies. Notable decliners included UnitedHealth Group losing 4.3% to $235.42, and Anthem off 4.1% to $276.29. Industrials outperformed as Fastenal jumped 5.0% to $68.48 and Boeing climbed 1.4% to $370.16. In earnings news, Bed Bath & Beyond fell 8.8% to $17.71 after the retailer revealed disappointing same-store sales figures.
Breadth was positive on issues by 5:4 on the NYSE and negative on issues by 6:5 on the Nasdaq. Composite NYSE Volume totaled more than 2.9 billion shares.
Treasuries were weaker, with the yield on the 10-year note up three basis points to 2.50%. In commodities, WTI crude slipped 1.4% to $63.68/barrel. COMEX gold was off 1.6% to $1,2988.60/ounce.