The US stock market closed slightly lower on Thursday, struggling to find catalysts, as investors await the quarterly earnings season, which kicks off on Friday with the accounts of JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo. The US job market remains healthy with claims for unemployment benefit at 50-year lows. Markets are waiting for Uber Technologies’ IPO prospectus, which was set to be released Thursday night. Oil corrects after a report by the International Energy Agency that is worried about a drop in global demand for crude oil.
The Wall Street index, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, dropped 0.05% to 26,143.05 points and the tech-heavy Nasdaq lost 0.21% to 7,947.36 points. The broad S&P 500 index remained almost stable, grabbing 0.11 points to finish at 2,888.32 points. It is thus quietly close to the record set on September 20, 2018 (at 2,930.75 points at the close). After an opening in the green, the indexes gradually lost ground before partially recovering, for no specific reason, near the close.
In the US job market, jobless claims dropped to 196,000 last week, their lowest level in almost 50 years, in October 1969! In addition, producer prices climbed faster than expected, by 0.6% in March over one month, against +0.3% consensus and +0.1% in February. However, excluding volatile items, prices remained healthy. The increase is essentially linked to energy prices, as WTI oil prices have soared by 40% since the beginning of the year.
Oil was down on Thursday after the release of the latest monthly report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), which worried about a slowdown in global demand for oil, because of signs of weakening oil prices. Investors are also lagging behind Wednesday’s announcement of a sharp rise in weekly stocks of crude oil in the United States.
The May futures contract on US light crude WTI lost Thursday 1.59% to $63.58 a barrel on the Nymex, while the Brent of the same maturity fell 1.25% to $70.83.