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Stock Market News for Sep 17, 2021

U.S. stocks ended mostly lower on Thursday after a choppy trading session that saw the Dow climbing back from intraday lows, while the Nasdaq managed to register marginal gains. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 ended in negative territory despite data showing an unexpected jump in August retail sales, while the Federal Reserve’s measure of activity in the Philadelphia district recorded stronger-than-expected reading.

How Did The Benchmarks Perform?

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) fell 0.2% or 63.07 points to end at 34,751.32 points. The blue-chip index at one point had tumbled as much as 274 points before recovering some of the losses.

The S&P 500 declined 0.2% or 6.95 points to finish at 4,473.75 points. Energy, materials and utilities stocks were the worst performers.

The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) and the Materials Select Sector SPDR (XLB) dropped 1.1% each. The Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU) fell 0.8%. Eight of the 11 sectors of the benchmark index closed in negative territory.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 0.1% or 20.39 points to close at 15,181.92 points. Shares of Facebook, Inc. FB declined 0.2%, while Microsoft Corporation MSFT advanced 0.1%. Microsoft carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) was up 2.81% to 18.69. A total of 9.37 billion shares were traded on Thursday, lower than the last 20-session average of 9.44 billion. Decliners outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by a 1.27-to-1 ratio. On Nasdaq, a 1.06-to-1 ratio favored advancing issues.

Investors’ Sentiment Still Low

September is historically a bad month for U.S. stock market and this year has been no different. The Dow and S&P 500 are down 1.55% and 0.93% through the first 10 days of September. Thursday was yet another day that saw all the three major indexes trading in negative territory before recovering some of the losses. However, only the Nasdaq managed to end in the green.

Thursday was also a day when investors digested some mixed economic reading. Investors have been feeling jittery for some time and have been desperately waiting to get a clear picture of the how the government plans its monetary policy after next week’s Federal Open Market Committee’s meeting. Till then, markets are expected to witness choppy trading sessions.

Investors are also worried about the economic recovery, as some states have been hit hard by the Delta variant cases.

Economic Data

In economic data released on Thursday, the Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims for the week ended Sep 11 rose to 332,000, higher than economists’ expectations of 320,000 and a jump of 20,000 from the earlier week’s revised level.  The prior week’s level was revised up by 2,000 from 310,000 to 312,000.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 335,750, a decline of 4,450 against last week’s revised average of 340,000.

Continuing claims, however, declined to 2.66 million, which was lower by 187,000 from the previous week’s revised level and also a new pandemic-era low. The four-week moving average of continuing claims declined to 2.81 million. The total number of people collecting benefits under all programs increased to 12,106,727, an increase of 178,937 for the week ended Aug 28.

A separate report showed that the Philadelphia Fed’s activity index advanced to 30.7 in September from 19.4 in August.

In other economic report, the Census Bureau said that retail sales surprisingly jumped 0.7% in August against expectations of a decline of 0.8%.

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