U.S. Stocks Giving Back Ground Following Yesterday’s Rebound

Stocks have moved mostly lower in morning trading on Thursday, partly offsetting the rally seen in the previous session. The major averages have all moved back to the downside but remain well off Tuesday’s intraday lows.

The major averages regained ground after an initial drop but currently remain firmly negative. The Dow is down 281.45 points or 0.9 percent at 33,004.80, the Nasdaq is down 230.42 points or 1.7 percent at 13,025.13 and the S&P 500 is down 46.13 points or 1.1 percent at 4,231.75.

Lingering concerns about the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict have contributed to the pullback on Wall Street, as peace talks between the countries resulted in little progress on key issues.

After speaking with his Russian counterpart, Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said no progress had been made on Ukraine’s proposal for a 24-hour ceasefire or the establishment of a humanitarian corridor to and from the besieged city of Mariupol.

A rebound by the price of crude oil is also weighing on Wall Street, with crude for April delivery jumping $2.05 to $110.75 after plunging by $15 a barrel on Wednesday.

The recent surge in oil prices has added to concerns about the outlook for inflation, as a report from the Labor Department showed a continued acceleration in the annual rate of U.S. consumer price growth in the month of February.

The report showed the annual rate of consumer price growth accelerated to 7.9 percent in February from 7.5 percent in January, reaching the highest rate since January 1982.

The faster year-over-year price growth came as consumer prices climbed by 0.8 percent in February after rising by 0.6 percent in January. The increase in prices matched economist estimates.

Excluding food and energy prices, core consumer prices rose by 0.5 percent in February following a 0.6 percent increase in January. The core price growth also matched expectations.

The annual rate of core consumer price growth accelerated to 6.4 percent in February from 6.0 percent in January, showing the fastest growth since August 1982.

A separate report from the Labor Department showed a modest increase in initial jobless claims in the week ended March 5th.

The report showed initial jobless claims crept up to 227,000, an increase of 11,000 from the previous week’s revised level of 216,000.

Economists had expected jobless claims to tick up to 216,000 from the 215,000 originally reported for the previous week.

Semiconductor stocks have moved sharply lower in morning trading, resulting in a 3.1 percent nosedive by the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index.

Significant weakness has also emerged among biotechnology stocks, as reflected by the 1.9 percent slump by the NYSE Arca Biotechnology Index.

Housing, brokerage and networking stocks are also seeing notable weakness, while energy stocks are rebounding following yesterday’s pullback.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved substantially higher during trading on Thursday. Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index soared by 3.9 percent, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index shot up by 1.2 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have pulled back sharply following the rebound seen in the previous session. While the U.K.’s FTSE 100 Index has slumped by 0.9 percent, the German DAX Index is down by 1.9 percent and the French CAC 40 Index is down by 2.3 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries are extending the downward move seen over the past several sessions. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is up by 5.4 basis points at 2.002 percent.

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