Stocks fall but trim losses as White House floats more stimulus

Lawmakers held a hearing on GameStop trading turmoil

U.S. equity markets fell Thursday but pared their losses after the Biden administration declined to shoot down a report indicating an additional stimulus package could follow the president's $1.9 trillion proposal.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
I:DJIDOW JONES AVERAGES31407.93+137.84+0.44%
SP500S&P 5003839.13+19.41+0.51%
I:COMPNASDAQ COMPOSITE INDEX13045.720904+47.97+0.37%

Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that discussions remain ongoing about the administration's future agenda and that no decisions have been made. Biden's current $1.9 trillion proposal is still being considered by lawmakers and is expected to face a close budget reconciliation which would allow Democrats to bypass a Republican filibuster.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 118 points, or 0.38%, after trading lower by as many as 328 points earlier in the session. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were weaker by 0.44% and 0.72%, respectively. The selling came after the Dow on Wednesday booked its third straight record-high close.

Mixed Economic Data

Initial jobless claims in the week ended Feb. 13 rose to 861,000 from an upwardly revised 848,000. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Refintiv were expecting the number of first-time filings to fall to 765,000.

Housing starts for January totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.58 million, below the 1.658 million that was anticipated. Building permits, meanwhile, jumped to a better-than-expected 1.881 million.

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WMTWALMART, INC.129.20+1.46+1.14%

In stocks, Dow component Walmart Inc. reported mixed quarterly results and said it still plans to raise pay for an additional 425,000 workers to above the $15 per hour. The company said sales at U.S. stores were up 8.6% year over year, excluding fuel.

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Marriott International Inc. posted quarterly revenue that fell short of Wall Street estimates as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to weigh on bookings. Revenue per available room, a key industry metric, was down 64% year over year worldwide.

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
ROKUROKU INC369.53+0.03+0.01%
DROPFUSE SCIENCE INC. 0.032-0.00-11.36%

Roku Inc. and Dropbox Inc. are among the companies reporting after the closing bell.

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Elsewhere, shares of GameStop Corp. and other heavily shorted stocks, including AMC, were in focus as lawmakers held a hearing over the trading turmoil that shook markets earlier this month. Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev and Citadel founder and CEO Kenneth Griffin testified.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil fell 62 cents to $60.52 per barrel while gold ticked up $2.30 to $1,773.40 an ounce.

European markets were lower with Germany’s DAX 30 down 0.16%, France’s CAC 40 weaker by 0.65% and Britain’s FTSE 100 losing 1.4%.

In Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite climbed 0.55% as traders returned to work for the first time in a week as Lunar New Year celebrations ended. Elsewhere in the region, Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.19% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.58%.