Choppy Trade Continues In Thursday Action

Market Summary

Wall Street came well off of session lows, but still finished in the red on Thursday. There really hasnt been an apetite this week on the part of investors to do much of anything. After the sharp year-to-date move up, we could be in for a sideways pattern for the time being. The days earnings and economic news did little spark any buying interest. After being down well over 100 points, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 42.47 points, or 0.3%, to 13,944.05. The S&P 500 slipped 2.73 points, or 0.2%, to 1,509.39, with cyclicals materials and energy the biggest decliners among the index’s 10 major industry groups. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 3.34 points, or 0.1%, to 3,165.13.

A rising greenback sent crude to a two week low. Crude-oil futures for March delivery fell 79 cents, or 0.8%, to settle at $95.83 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gold also faced the same pressure, dropping $7.50, or 0.5%, to settle at $1,671.30 an ounce.

Economic Rundown

Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell 5,000 in the February 2 week to 366,000, slightly higher than the 360,000 consensus estimate. The prior week was revised 3K higher to 371,000. The four-week average is down 2,250 to 350,500 and is down more than 15,000 compared with early January.

Nonfarm business productivity fell an annualized 2.0 percent, following a gain of 3.2 percent in the third quarter. The consensus called for a 1.3 percent decline. Unit labor costs growth jumped an annualized 4.5 percent, following a 2.3 percent decrease in the third quarter. Market expectations were for a 3.1 percent increase. The drop in fourth quarter productivity reflected a deceleration in growth. Year-on-year, productivity was up 0.6 percent in the fourth quarter, down from 1.8 percent the quarter before. Year-ago unit labor costs were up 1.9 percent versus unchanged in the third quarter. Hourly compensation was up 2.6 percent versus 1.8 percent in the third quarter.

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