Stocks little changed on trade concerns, home sales miss

Major U.S. stock averages ended Thursday's session close to their starting points after being buoyed by financial and technology company shares but weighed by weakening industrial company and health care company shares.

Investors also digested downbeat economic news from China, which reported industrial activity and home sales declining in January and February. Also, joblessness last month edged up to 5.3 percent.

Meanwhile, shares of beleaguered Boeing -- which have been hammered after the second crash of a 737 Max jet in five months -- extended their two-day streak of relative stability.

General Electric stock jumped after CEO Larry Culp updated investors on progress toward profitability, saying he expects cash generation to turn positive over the next two years. Shares have been rising since March 6.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
NOC NORTHROP GRUMMAN CORP. 437.11 -3.07 -0.70%
BMY BRISTOL MYERS SQUIBB CO. 59.08 +0.30 +0.51%
FTI TECHNIPFMC PLC 20.80 +0.38 +1.86%
NTRS NORTHERN TRUST CORP. 69.54 -0.33 -0.47%

Johnson & Johnson shares were lower after a jury in California ruled that it must pay $29 million to a woman who claimed its baby powder gave her terminal cancer.

In U.S. economic news, the Commerce Department said on Thursday new home sales declined 6.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 607,000 units.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 229,000.

U.S. import prices increased by the most in nine months in February.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
I:DJI DOW JONES AVERAGES 33988.66 -81.76 -0.24%
SP500 S&P 500 4322.93 -7.07 -0.16%
I:COMP NASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX 13214.040917 -9.94 -0.08%

In Asian markets on Thursday, China’s Shanghai Composite was down 1.2 percent as China's industrial output rose a slower-than-expected 5.3 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index ended 0.2 percent higher and Japan’s Nikkei ended 1 percent lower.


In Europe, the major markets closed with gains. London’s FTSE gained 0.4 percent, Germany’s DAX added 0.2 percent and France’s CAC was higher by 0.9 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.