Markets closed down on Wall Street today:
▼ Dow -0.60 percent
▼ S&P -0.72 percent
▼ Nasdaq -0.39 percent
▼ Oil -1.69 percent
▼ Gold -0.39 percent
On the commodities front:
▼ Oil (NYSE:USO) fell to $105.46 a barrel
▼ Gold (NYSE:GLD) down to $1,643.80 an ounce
▼ Silver (NYSE:SLV) fell 2.27 percent to settle at $31.50
Today’s markets were down because:
1) Unemployment: The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits hit a 4-year low last week, according to data released today by the Labor Department. However, it wasn’t enough to help investors shake off the doldrums. Today’s sell-off was broad, with the most economically sensitive equities and commodities leading declines, despite news that just 348,000 new claims were filed last week.
2) Bellwethers: The economic bellwethers were the hardest hit today, despite no significant economic developments other than the morning’s positive jobs report. Copper and oil fell more than 2 percent, and all 10 Dow sectors were down, led by oil and gas producers, including Chevron and Exxon. Caterpillar and Alcoa were also trading lower, dragging on the blue chip index.
3) China: Some of today’s sell-off can be attributed to concerns over a seeming slowdown in China. A reading on Chinese manufacturing compiled by HSBC showed the index hit a four-month low in March, indicating contraction in the sector for the second straight month. A significant drop in new orders was the biggest drag on manufacturing. In recent weeks, China has lowered its growth target and raised gasoline prices.
[Editor’s note: the above is a cross post that originally appeared on Wall St. Cheat Sheet.]