Stocks ended their impressive winning streak on Thursday, despite upbeat readings on U.S. employment and stimulative efforts by three central banks.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 12,896.67, down 47.15 points or 0.4 per cent.
The broader S&P 500 closed at 1,367.58, down 6.44 points or 0.5 per cent, ending a three-day winning streak.
In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 11,816.91, down 96.96 points or 0.8 per cent, concluding a six-day winning streak.
Curiously, the declines follow dramatic moves by major central banks to stimulate their economies, which normally gives stocks a boost.
The European Central Bank cut its key rate by a quarter of a percentage point, to an historic low of 0.75 per cent, in a move that was widely anticipated.
China’s central bank lowered its key lending rate and the Bank of England raised the size of its asset-purchase program – a flurry of activity that suggested to some observers that central banks were acting in a co-ordinated fashion to help bolster the global economy as it shows signs of slowing down.
In the United States, where economic reports have disappointed expectations in recent weeks, there was some good news. Initial jobless claims for the period ended last week fell to 374,000 – a bigger drop than what economists had been expecting, and bringing the number of claims to its lowest level in a month.
The ADP report on private sector employment also beat expectations, showing job gains of 176,000 in June. The report is followed on Friday by the official payrolls report from the U.S. Labor Department. Economists expect tepid job gains of 95,000, according to Bloomberg News.
The ISM report on non-manufacturing activity did provide one disappointment: It slid to 52.1 in June from 53.7 in May, which is a bigger drop than economists had been expecting.
Yet, given that the manufacturing report on Monday fell into contraction territory below 50, some observers could see an upside to the fact that the services sector continues to expand.
In Europe, the bond market continued to rattle nerves, with bond yields rising among countries considered at higher risk of needing a bailout.
The yield on Spain’s 10-year government bond rose to 6.7 per cent, up 36 basis points. The yield on Italy’s 10-year government bond rose to 5.9 per cent, up 20 basis points. There are 100 basis points in a percentage point.
Commodity prices moved slightly lower. Crude oil, which has been on a tear in recent trading sessions, fell to $87.22 (U.S.) a barrel, down 44 cents.
Gold fell to $1,609.40 an ounce, down $12.40. Among commodity producers, Suncor Energy Inc. fell 2.4 per cent and Barrick Gold Corp. fell 0.8 per cent.
U.S. financials were among the biggest laggards: JPMorgan Chase & Co. fell 4.2 per cent and Bank of America Corp. fell 3 per cent.
However, Netflix Inc. surged 13.4 per cent after an analyst estimated that its online audience now exceeds that of U.S. cable and television networks.