U.S. stocks settle lower

Paterniano Del Favero
Marzo 25, 2017

Earlier in the session, the commodity-heavy index had wiped out all of its gains made so far this year, after closing out 2016 at 15,287.59.

Stocks were being helped by oil prices, with West Texas Intermediate up 0.25% to $47.82 per barrel and Brent crude rose 0.15% to $50.64. The CBOE Volatility index, Wall Street's "fear gauge", jumped 10 percent.

The Dow was lower, pulled down by a 5.8-per-cent fall in Nike after the world's largest footwear maker missed quarterly revenue estimates.

The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were little changed on Wednesday as investors increasingly anxious whether President Donald Trump will be able to push ahead with his pro-growth policies.

The sector, the top performer since the November election, suffered its worst daily drop since June on Tuesday.

Investors saw the Trump administration's struggles to push through his healthcare legislation overhaul as a sign he may face setbacks delivering the proposed corporate tax cuts.

At the close, the Dow Jones was 1.14% off at 20,668.01 points and the S&P 500 lost 1.24% to 2,344.02. Trump faced his biggest political test yet convincing fellow Republicans to repeal Obamacare.

On Tuesday, the S&P financial index dropped almost 3 percent, its biggest daily fall since June.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), a preferred gauge of stock market stress, climbed nearly 10% to 12.47 on Mar 21, its highest close since Mar 1. "Yesterday showed confidence in the Trump agenda wavering a bit", Craig Sterling, head of United States equity research at Pioneer Investments, told CNBC. "We're just taking off some of the froth". Meanwhile, the Nasdaq Composite outperformed, rising 27.82 points, or 0.5%, to end at 5,821.64.

USA 10-year Treasury yields fell to their lowest level since the end of February and the gap between US and German 10-year government borrowing costs hit its narrowest since November.

Oil prices also dipped and slipped back to three-month lows after data showed U.S. crude inventories rising faster than expected.

The benchmark index is trading at about 18 times expected earnings compared to a 10-year average of 14, according to Thomson Reuters Datastream.

The S&P 500 Index pullback from the 2,400 Mar 1 peak gains some momentum with this week's break through the first layer of short-term support near 2,350.

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