Market Wrap for Thursday, March 21: Stocks Give Back Wednesday's Gains

The U.S. stock market gave back its gain from Wednesday as the ongoing bank crisis in Cyprus undermines investor confidence.

The major averages in the United States tumbled and stocks were mostly lower across the world. Overall, however, the market remains on solid footing and economic reports continue to exceed economists' expectations.

Major Averages

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost around 90 points, or 0.62 percent, to 14,421.

The S&P 500 fell around 13 points, or 0.83 percent, to close at 1,546.

The Nasdaq Composite lost 32 points, or 0.97 percent, to 3,223.

Jobless Claims

Initial jobless claims rose slightly for the week ending March 9 to 336,000 from an upwardly revised 334,000. This was below the consensus which expected a rise to 345,000.

Continuing jobless claims also rose slightly in the week ending March 9 to 3.053 million from 3.048 million. This was below consensus expectations which expected the continuing claims rate to rise to 3.065 million.

Existing Home Sales

Existing home sales rose 0.8 percent in February to 4.98 million from 4.94 million in the prior month. This barely missed consensus estimates which called for existing home sales to rise to 5.00 million.

Philadelphia Fed

Data from the Philadelphia Fed's Business Outlook index showed a strong uptick in March. The index rose from -12.5 in February to 2.0 in March, which was ahead of consensus expectations that expected a rise to -3.0.

Leading Indicators

The Conference Board's Index of Leading Indicators registered a gain of 0.5 percent for February after rising 0.5 percent in January. This was in-line with consensus expectations.


Crude oil fell along with the stock market on Thursday. Late in the day, NYMEX crude futures were down 1.21 percent to $92.37. Brent futures had lost 1.33 percent and were trading at $107.26. Natural gas had lost $0.03, or 0.83 percent, to $3.93 late in the day on Thursday.

Precious metals rose on the session as stocks fell. COMEX gold futures were last up 0.41 percent to $1,614.10 and silver had climbed 1.28 percent to $29.19 near the close of equity trading. Copper futures fell 0.20 percent on the session.

Grain prices were higher on the session with the exception of wheat and oats, both of which lost around 1 percent. Corn was last trading up 0.07 percent on the day. In soft commodities, orange juice futures added around 1.80 percent and cotton lost 1 percent.


Near the close of equity trading, the iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (NYSE:TLT) had jumped 0.84 percent to $117.07. The rise in bond prices pushed yields lower on Thursday.

While the yield on the 2-Year Note was unchanged at 0.25 percent, the yield on the 5-Year Note fell one basis point to 0.80 percent. The 10-Year Note yield fell three basis points to 1.93 percent and the 30-Year Bond yield was down five basis points to 3.15 percent.


The U.S. dollar was largely unchanged on the session. Near the close of equity trading, the PowerShares DB US Dollar Index Bullish ETF (NYSE:UUP), which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of foreign currencies, was down 0.04 percent to $22.54.

The closely watched EUR/USD pair was last down around 0.16 percent to $1.2915. Other significant movers included the USD/JPY, which fell 1.22 percent, and the AUD/USD, which rose 0.74 percent.

Volatility and Volume

The VIX moved up on Thursday as the markets fell. The widely watched CBOE Volatility Index jumped a little less than 10 percent to 13.90.

Volume was below average even as the major averages fell. Around 112 million SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSE:SPY) shares traded hands compared to a 3-month daily average of 130 million.

Stock Movers

Enterprise software giant Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) fell almost 10 percent after the company missed Q3 earnings expectations.

After days of sharp gains, shares of Fannie Mae (OTC:FNMA) and Freddie Mac (OTC:FMCC) pulled back significantly. Near the close, FNMA was down 24 percent while FMCC had lost almost 26 percent.

Shares of ACADIA Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ACAD) were up around 24 percent heading into the close after the company reported data from its late-stage Parkinson's disease psychosis study with Pimavanserin.

Perry Ellis (NASDAQ:PERY) climbed almost 7 percent after the company released bullish fourth-quarter financial results.

Shares of apparel retailer Guess? (NYSE:GES) lost around 7 percent after the company's fiscal fourth-quarter earnings results.

Affymax (NASDAQ:AFFY) was trading up around 16 percent heading into the closing bell. The micro-cap stock is down better than 92 percent over the last three months after its only marketed product was recalled.

Jabil Circuit (NYSE:JBL) lost more than 4 percent after releasing its second-quarter earnings results and providing weak Q3 guidance.

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