The Dow ended down just a fraction of a point, within about 4 points
of its record closing high of 16,576.66 set on December 31. The Dow
posted an all-time intraday high during the session.
Market outperformers in the Internet and biotech sectors lost
ground, resuming a selloff from March after some recent gains. Two
weeks ago, biotechs suffered their worst day since 2011.
"That's a buying opportunity in our view. We think (biotech) will
come roaring back. It's not just going to have one good year and be
done," said Randy Warren, chief investment officer of Warren
Financial Service in Exton, Pennsylvania.
The Nasdaq biotechnology index <.NBI> slid 2.7 percent.
Among momentum stocks, the shares of Tesla Motors <TSLA.O>, the
electric car maker, fell 2.1 percent to $225.40 and the shares of
Netflix Inc <NFLX.O>, the online movie rental company, lost 2.3
percent to close at $354.69. Facebook <FB.O> shares fell 5.2 percent
to end at $59.49.
Investors were reluctant to make big bets ahead of Friday's nonfarm
payrolls report, when they will be looking for evidence that recent
weather-related weakness in the economy has passed. Economists
expect that employers added 200,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in
March, according to a Reuters poll.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dipped 0.45 of a point to
close at 16,572.55, after hitting an intraday record of 16,604.15.
The S&P 500 <.SPX> slipped 2.13 points or 0.11 percent, to finish at
1,888.77. It also hit an intraday record high of 1,893.80. The
Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> dropped 38.716 points or 0.91 percent, to
end at 4,237.74.
The Global X Social Media ETF <SOCL.O>, which includes Facebook,
LinkedIn Corp <LNKD.N> and Groupon Inc <GRPN.O>, fell 3.4 percent.
Some analysts said the selloff in "momentum" stocks has yet to run
The options market also focused on momentum stocks, with Tesla
Motors remaining a favorite with the speculative crowd for a second
day. The total option volume by afternoon was running at about a 30
percent mark-up to what's typically seen.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp <APC.N> shares jumped 14.5 percent to close
at $99.02 following news that the company will pay $5.15 billion to
settle years of litigation over pollution clean-up claims related to
uranium deposits, wood creosote and rocket fuel processing. The
agreement marked the biggest environmental bankruptcy settlement on
[to top of second column]
Shares of Barnes & Noble Inc <BKS.N> plunged 13.5 percent to $19.12
after Liberty Media Corp <LMCA.O> said it has sold almost all of its
stake in the company, ending a nearly three-year bet that the
struggling retailer would emerge as a dominant seller of e-books.
The S&P 500 now consists of 501 stocks, with the index including
both Google Inc's Class A <GOOGL.O> and Class C <GOOG.O> shares
after the company's special dividend. Google's Class A shares rose
0.6 percent to $571.50 while its Class C shares gained 0.5 percent
On the economic front, the U.S. trade deficit unexpectedly widened
in February to $42.3 billion as exports hit a five-month low,
suggesting that first-quarter growth could be much weaker than
A bright spot came from the services sector, where growth
accelerated in March after being hampered by unusually cold weather,
according to the Institute for Supply Management's services-sector
In the biopharmaceutical sector, Gilead Sciences Inc <GILD.O> said
late Wednesday that a trial of its hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir, sold
under the brand name Sovaldi in the United States, showed the drug
was safe and effective in treating Japanese patients infected with a
common form of the virus. Its stock edged up 0.1 percent to close at
About 6.0 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges, below the
6.4 billion average so far this month, according to data from BATS
Decliners beat advancers on the New York Stock Exchange by 1,772 to
1,220 and on the Nasdaq by 1,837 to 775.
(Additional reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Nick Zieminski and
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