Wall Street Opens Lower as War Outlook Overshadow Strong Data; Dow Down 90 Pts

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Wall Street Opens Lower as War Outlook Overshadow Strong Data; Dow Down 90 Pts

By Geoffrey Smith 

Investing.com -- U.S. stock markets opened lower on Thursday, giving back from of the gains they made in the wake of the Federal Reserve's interest rate hike and press conference despite a raft of data showing strong momentum in the economy.

By 9:45 AM ET (1445 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 88 points, or 0.3% at 33,975 points. The S&P 500 was down 0.1% and the Nasdaq Composite was down 0.2%. The Dow had gained 1.5% on Wednesday, the S&P 2.2% and the Nasdaq 3.8%. 

The market appeared unable to shake its fixation with the war in Ukraine, which continues to escalate with reports of Russia sending reinforcements to the region from the Far East and Caucasus, as well as shelling targets around Odesa, an important port city still under Ukrainian control. The U.S. said it will send $1 billion in additional military aid to Ukraine on Wednesday, including armed drones. The White House said earlier that President Joe Biden will talk to his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping about the war and other matters of mutual interest on Friday. 

Earlier, new data showed a sharp rebound in U.S. housing starts in February, while building permits stayed close to their highest levels in 15 years. In addition, U.S. manufacturing production rose at the fastest clip in four months and the Philadelphia Federal Reserve's index of manufacturing activity rose by far more than expected. The number of people receiving ongoing jobless benefits, meanwhile, fell to the lowest since 1970.

Profit-taking was in evidence in many sectors, notably in Chinese ADRs after their ferocious rally on Wednesday in response to promises from vice-premier Liu He of more 'understanding' and supportive regulation in the future. Alibaba ADRs (NYSE: BABA ) and JD.com (NASDAQ: JD ) ADRs both fell 6.6%, while Pinduoduo (NASDAQ: PDD ) fell 11%. Robin Brooks, an economist with the International Institute of Finance, noted that China is currently experiencing substantial capital outflows even while other emerging markets are receiving inflows. This pattern, he said, has "never happened before on this scale and reflects asset managers looking at China in a new light after Russia's invasion of Ukraine."

Among individual movers, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ) edged up 0.4% after closing the acquisition of movie studio MGM, a deal that it hopes will bolster the position of its video streaming operations. 

Warby Parker (NYSE: WRBY ) underperformed after the eyewear retailer reported a sharp widening in its net loss during the holiday quarter. It also guided for full-year sales more than 5% below consensus forecasts. Warby Parker stock was down 1.1%

Williams-Sonoma (NYSE: WSM ) went sharply in the other direction, rising 6.3% after raising its dividend and beating estimates with its quarterly results. Dollar General (NYSE: DG ) stock also rose 1.5% after the company said it expects high inflation to make Americans more price-sensitive this year. It too raised its dividend.

Elsewhere, oil and gas stocks were supported again as crude oil prices surged over $100, following comments from the Kremlin playing down the prospect of an early peace and consequently the restoration of unhindered Russian oil supplies to world markets. The International Energy Agency predicted on Wednesday that as much as 3 million barrels a day of Russian crude could be shut in as a result of the sanctions imposed by the West. 


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