Trading remained choppy with U.S. stocks mostly positive in the
morning after U.S. economic data pointed to improving conditions.
But the major indexes reversed course in the afternoon as technology
stocks turned sharply lower.
Among technology stocks, Facebook <FB.O> was one of the biggest
decliners a day after the social networking company said it would
acquire two-year-old Oculus VR Inc, a maker of virtual-reality
glasses for gaming, for $2 billion. Facebook shares ended down 6.9
percent at $60.39.
The United States and the European Union agreed to work together to
prepare possible tougher economic sanctions in response to Russia's
behavior in Ukraine. The sanctions could possibly include the energy
The S&P energy sector index <.SPNY> slipped 0.3 percent.
U.S. President Barack Obama said after a summit with top EU
officials that Russian President Vladimir Putin had miscalculated if
he thought he could divide the West or count on its indifference
over his annexation of Crimea.
"This could be a non-event if the market wasn't at the level that it
is now. Because we are still near a record high, this kind of
geopolitical news can make investors more nervous," said Peter
Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital in New
A sharp drop in the stock of King Digital Entertainment Plc <KING.N>,
the maker of the wildly popular "Candy Crush Saga" game, also soured
King's stock fell 15.6 percent to close at $19 in its trading debut
on Wednesday after the initial public offering valued the company at
about $6 billion. King was the most actively traded stock on the New
York Stock Exchange.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> slipped 98.89 points, or
0.60 percent, to end at 16,268.99. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
<.SPX> dropped 13.06 points, or 0.70 percent, to finish at 1,852.56.
The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> fell 60.69 points, or 1.43
percent, to close at 4,173.58.
The CBOE Volatility Index <.VIX>, a widely used gauge of investor
sentiment on Wall Street, rose 6.5 percent to end at 14.93. The VIX
usually moves inversely to the S&P 500.
Biotech stocks, which have sold off sharply in recent sessions,
extended their losses. The Nasdaq biotechnology index <.NBI> slid
1.9 percent to end at 2,455.84.
The S&P materials sector index <.SPLRCM> tumbled 1.4 percent and
ranked as the biggest decliner among 10 S&P sector indexes.
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Among materials stocks, Newmont Mining Corp <NEM.N> shares fell 3.6
percent to end at $23.07 and ranked as the biggest decliner in the
S&P materials sector index. Dow Chemical Co <DOW.N> shares dropped
2.4 percent to close at $49.43.
The S&P 500's only positive sector was healthcare <.SPXHC>, up just
0.1 percent for the day.
Going against the day's downward trend, DirectTV shares <DTV.O> shot
up 5.7 percent to end at $77.34 and Dish Network Corp <DISH.O>
shares jumped 6.3 percent to close at $62.09. Dish Chief Executive
Officer Charlie Ergen recently contacted DirecTV CEO Mike White to
discuss a possible tie-up, Bloomberg reported, citing sources
familiar with the matter.
After the bell, the U.S. Federal Reserve objected to plans by
Citigroup <C.N> and four other banks to return capital to
shareholders, saying it had uncovered deficiencies during an annual
test of their financial robustness.
Citigroup shares fell more than 5 percent in extended-hours trading
following the news. The shares had ended the regular session at
$50.16, down 0.3 percent.
In the latest look at the U.S. economy, orders for durable goods
rose more than expected in February, ending two straight months of
declines. Another report showed private-sector economic activity
accelerated in March at a faster clip than in February as the
services sector picked up, according to financial data firm Markit's
preliminary composite Purchasing Managers Index.
Volume of about 7.1 billion shares traded on U.S. exchanges,
slightly above the 6.9 billion average so far this month, according
to data from BATS Global Markets.
Decliners beat advancers by a ratio of 2 to 1 on the New York Stock
Exchange, while on the Nasdaq, nearly four stocks fell for every one
(Editing by Jan Paschal)
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