Stocks declined on Thursday but ended the day well above earlier lows, as investors weighed concerns about the euro and disappointing U.S. jobless claims.
The S&P 500 closed at 1509.39, down 2.73 points or 0.2 per cent – after dipping below the 1500-point threshold in midday trading. The blue-chip Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,943.82, down 42.70 points or 0.3 per cent, after recovering more than 90 points from its low. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,755.92, down 5.67 points or about zero per cent.
Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, raised eyebrows with his comments about the euro, remarking that the currency’s strength could hold back an economic recovery in the region. The comments sent the euro down about 1 per cent, after flying to 14-month highs last week.
The U.K.’s FTSE 100 fell 1.1 per cent and Germany’s DAX index trimmed its earlier gains, closing up just 0.1 per cent.
In the United States, weekly initial jobless claims disappointed economists. For the period ended last week, claims fell to 366,000 – down just 2,000 from the previous week and slightly higher than the 360,000 claims that economists had been expecting.
Akamai Technologies Inc. tumbled 15.2 per cent after reporting quarterly revenues and forecasts that missed analysts’ expectations.
Apple Inc. rose 2.4 per cent after influential hedge fund manager David Einhorn, head of Greenlight Capital, said the company should return cash to shareholders in the form of preferred shares. Apple responded to Mr. Einhorn’s concerns, saying it would evaluate his proposal and that changes to its charter – which Mr. Einhorn opposes – would not prevent the issuance of preferred stock. At the end of 2012, Apple’s cash holdings grew to $137-billion (U.S.), up 13 per cent since September.
Turning to Canadian stocks, Shoppers Drug Mart Corp. rose 1.1 per cent after reporting net income of $176-million (Canadian), down slightly over last year but up on a per-share basis. The retailer also boosted its dividend and reported a 4.4 per cent increase in revenue.
Manulife Financial Corp. rose 1 per cent after reporting net income of more than $1-billion, beating estimates on a per-share basis.
Among key commodities, crude oil fell to $95.83 (U.S.) a barrel, down 79 cents. Gold fell to $1,671.30 an ounce, down $7.50. Suncor Energy Inc. fell 0.9 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. rose 0.3 per cent.
After markets closed, LinkedIn Corp. reported earnings that beat Street expectations, sending its shares in the post market up about 8 per cent.