By Yashaswini Swamynathan
U.S. stocks fell on Thursday, with the Dow on track to mark its fifth day of losses as investors stayed away from making risky bets ahead of Donald Trump's swearing-in as president on Friday. The markets are also digesting a clutch of information including the European Central Bank's decision to maintain its monetary policy, while awaiting a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen.After hitting a series of record highs in a post-election rally, Wall Street has been trading in a tight range as investors look for more details on Trump's policies.The S&P 500 has not moved more than 1 percent in either direction since Dec. 7. Traders in the options market have grown increasingly cautious and have been loading up on defensive contracts, even as overall levels of stock market volatility are close to record lows. "We may give Trump the benefit of doubt in the first hundred days," said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research. "But unless we see some legislation being passed through Congress, this hype might turn into gripe and end up being a trigger for the digestion of gains."
At 12:16 a.m. ET (1716 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 31.24 points, or 0.16 percent, at 19,773.48 - its longest losing streak since October.The S&P 500 was down 3.31 points, or 0.15 percent, at 2,268.58 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 1.75 points, or 0.03 percent, at 5,553.90.Yellen said on Wednesday the U.S. economy was getting closer to running on its own, but added that it made sense to raise interest rates gradually. She will speak on monetary policy at Stanford University at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Adding to a recent spate of robust economic data was a report that indicated U.S. homebuilding rebounded more than expected in December. Another report showed weekly jobless claims fell to a 43-year low.Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were lower, with declines in healthcare and financials weighing on the broader index. Exxon was off 1.5 percent following a UBS downgrade to "sell". Merck's 0.9 percent loss weighed the most on healthcare stocks.
Railroad provider CSX Corp jumped 18.3 percent after a source said CP Rail CEO Hunter Harrison, who steps down on Jan. 31, is in advanced talks to team up with a former Pershing Square Capital partner to shake up CSX.Union Pacific was up 2.2 percent at $106.07 after the company reported a better-than-expected quarterly net profit.Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 2,198 to 689. On the Nasdaq, 1,939 issues fell and 820 advanced.The S&P 500 index showed 14 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 54 new highs and 23 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)
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Updated Date: Jan 20, 2017 00:00 AM