Stocks finished firmly lower Thursday. The Dow lost 220 points to 25,169 while the S&P 500 fell 25 points to 2,706. The Nasdaq Composite slipped 86 points to 7,288.
The major averages declined as investors digested the latest trade updates. White House officials indicated that the proposed meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi is “highly unlikely” ahead of the March 1 deadline. Concerns of a slowdown in global economic growth also weighed on sentiment after the European Commission cut its 2019 growth outlook for the Eurozone. On the data front, a report showed initial jobless claims eased to 234,000 in the most recent week. A separate update showed consumer credit rose less than anticipated to $16.6 billion in December.
Nine of 11 S&P 500 sectors finished in negative territory with the “defensive” Real Estate and Utilities the only groups ending in positive territory. Energy shares led declines in sympathy with WTI crude falling 2.6% to $52.59/barrel. Technology shares were also broadly lower with Apple losing 2.1% to $170.68. In M&A news, SunTrust Bank jumped 10.2% to $64.73 while BB&T added 3.9% to $50.43 after announcing the largest bank merger since the financial crisis, a deal valued around $66 billion.
Breadth was negative on issues by 2:1 on both the NYSE and the Nasdaq. Composite NYSE volume was more than 4.0 billion shares.
Treasuries strengthened along the curve with the yield on the 10-year note slipping three basis points to 2.66%. In commodities, COMEX gold fell 0.1% to $1,308.90/ounce amid a stronger dollar.