The US stocks declined on Thursday, 18 February 2021, with the broader Nasdaq, the S&P 500 and the Dow indexes all finished in the red, as investors opted to book recent profit after an unexpected rise in weekly jobless claims pointed to a fragile recovery in the labor market.
At the close of trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average index declined 119.68 points, or 0.38%, to 31,493.34. The S&P500 index fell 17.36 points, or 0.44%, to 3,913.97. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 100.14 points, or 0.72%, to 13,865.36.
Shares of technology and communications services sectors tumbled on profit booking. Shares of Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp, Amazon.com Inc, Tesla Inc and Alphabet Inc were down between 0.8% and 2%. Shares in Facebook fell 1.5% after its decision to block all news content in Australia.
Shares in Walmart fell by 6.5% after earnings from the world's largest retailer fell short of forecasts and predicted fiscal 2022 net sales to rise in low single digits.
Marriott International Inc slipped after reporting a quarterly loss as the world's largest hotel chain's bookings declined due to pandemic-induced travel restrictions.
ECONOMIC NEWS REPORTS: US Weekly Jobless Claims Inch Up- US first-time claims for unemployment benefits inched up to 861,000, an increase of 13,000 from the previous week's revised level of 848,000 in the week ended February 13th, according to a report released by the Labor Department on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Labor Department said the less volatile four-week moving average edged down to 833,250, a decrease of 3,500 from the previous week's revised average of 836,750.
The report said continuing claims, a reading on the number of people receiving ongoing unemployment assistance, also fell by 64,000 to 4.494 million in the week ended February 6th.
US Housing Starts Tumble 6% In January- US housing starts tumbled by 6% to an annual rate of 1.580 million in January after soaring by 8.2% to an upwardly revised rate of 1.680 million in December, the Commerce Department reported on Thursday. The upwardly revised rate seen in December reflected the highest annual rate of housing starts since September of 2006. The steep drop in housing starts came as single-family starts plunged by 12.2% to a rate of 1.162 million, more than offsetting a 17.1% spike in multi-family starts to a rate of 418,000. Meanwhile, the report also said building permits skyrocketed by 10.4% to an annual rate of 1.881 million in January after jumping by 4.2% to a revised rate of 1.704 million in December.
Philly Fed Index Grows At Slower Pace In February- The Philly Fed diffusion index for current activity dipped to 23.1 in February from 26.5 in January, but a positive reading still indicates growth in regional manufacturing activity, according to a report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on Thursday. The decrease by the headline index was partly due to a slowdown in the pace of growth in new orders, as the new orders index slumped to 23.4 in February from 30.0 in January. The shipments index also edged down to 21.5 in February from 22.7 in January, indicating a modest slowdown in the pace of growth.
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