The major U.S. stock indexes finished mixed on Thursday with the S&P 500 Index and the NASDAQ Composite finishing lower. Both ended three-day winning streaks in the process. The Dow bucked the trend for the day and its trend for the week by finishing higher for the session.
The catalysts behind the weakness were a decline in the communication services group, which is a major component of the technology sector, weaker-than-expected U.S. economic data and renewed concerns over U.S.-China trade relations.
On Thursday, the benchmark S&P 500 Index settled at 2808.48, down 2.44 or -0.09%. The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 25709.94, up 7.05 or +0.03% and the technology-based NASDAQ Composite ended the session at 7630.91, down 12.50 or -0.17%.
Tech Stocks Falter
Facebook shares slid 1.9 percent after a worldwide outage of its core app, Instagram and WhatsApp. This drove the S&P 500 Index as well as the NASDAQ Composite. The social media giant was also pressured after The New York Times reported federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals the company made with other tech giants.
Economic Data Mixed-to-Weaker
On the data front, Import Prices rose 0.6%, beating the 0.3% forecast, while the prior month was revised higher to 0.1%. However, the good news ended there.
Weekly Unemployment Claims ticked higher. The number of people filing first time claims rose to 229K, up from last week’s 223K. Traders were looking for a reading of 225K.
New Home Sales missed the estimate, falling 6.9 percent in January. Traders said the government shutdown may have kept buyers on the sidelines. New Home Sales came in at 607K, lower than the 622K forecast. The losses were somewhat offset was the prior report was revised higher to 652K.
US.-China Trade Relations
Investors continued to grow impatient of the process to construct a trade deal between the two economic powerhouses. The two countries are still expected to reach a deal, however, optimism may be fading. This could put short-term pressure on the markets.
Investors also expressed some concerns with ongoing trade negotiations between the United States and China after CNBC learned through three sources briefed on the matter that China wants to link a formal state visit to the U.S. to a trade-deal announcement.
The sources also said China wants a deal to be fully ironed out before Chinese President Xi Jinping sat down with President Donald Trump. They also said, however, Trump prefers to close the deal himself with Xi in person.
Bloomberg News also reported earlier in the day that China and the U.S. are trying to push back a meeting between the countries’ two leaders from late March to April at the earliest.