NEW YORK Wall Street stocks were mostly slightly lower on Thursday as dollar strength damaged oil and commodity share prices and financials weakened, threatening to end the S&P 500's five-week winning streak.
"After the run that we've had... I think it's natural for folks to take a deep breath and take some chips off the table," said Jeff Buetow, President and BFRC Services in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Stocks began to dip this week after a series of comments by U.S. Federal Reserve officials, who raised expectations for more interest rate hikes in the coming months than investors expected.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard was the latest to join a chorus of officials who highlighted the chance of at least two rate rises this year, with his remarks on Thursday.
The possibility of more interest rate hikes pushed the dollar .DXY towards a 5th day of gains, its best run since April. Oil and materials sectors, which rise on a weakened dollar, dropped.
Meanwhile, the financial sector was aching after UBS labelled Wells Fargo stock as "sell" due to a cloudy revenue outlook and credit risks. Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup were among the biggest drags on the S&P 500 index.
Record crude oil stockpiles further weighed on oil prices while the deadly bombing attacks in Brussels on Tuesday added to stock market uncertainty for the week.
Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 1.75 points, or 0.01 percent, to 17,500.84, the S&P 500 .SPX had lost 2.45 points, or 0.12 percent, to 2,034.26 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC had added 1.00 points, or 0.02 percent, to 4,769.86. Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by a 0.9 percent fall in the financial sector .SPSY. Goldman Sachs (GS.N) was down 1.4 percent at $152.32 and weighed the most on the Dow.
Data on Thursday also showed durable goods orders fell less than estimated in February, while jobless claims data showed the labour market was stronger than previously thought.
Yahoo (YHOO.O) shares were down 0.14 percent after activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP moved on Thursday to overthrow the entire board of the technology company.
Staples (SPLS.O) shares were up 6.2 percent at $10.67 after a media report said a U.S. judge rebuked the Federal Trade Commission's legal tactics in the Staples and Office Depot merger case.
PVH Corp (PVH.N) was up 7.4 percent, Signet Jewelers (SIG.N) was up 4.2 percent and Accenture (ACN.N) were up about 5.4 percent after strong quarterly results.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,528 to 1,434, for a 1.07-to-1 ratio on the downside; on the Nasdaq, 1,399 issues rose and 1,364 fell for a 1.03-to-1 ratio favouring advancers.
The S&P 500 posted 10 new 52-week highs and 1 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 19 new highs and 53 new lows
(Additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Chizu Nomiyama)
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Updated Date: Mar 25, 2016 02:00 AM