US stocks snapped a five-week win streak on 24 March before the long Easter weekend. After paring sharp losses, stocks closed little-changed from the previous session. The industrial and financial sectors weighed heavily.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged 13.14 points, or 0.1%, to settle at 17,515.73. Caterpillar Inc, which rose 2.13%, and IBM Corp, up 1.77%, were the lead gainers of the blue-chip index. Goldman Sachs, down 0.66%, and UnitedHealth, which fell 0.92%, were the leading decliners. According to MarketWatch, the Dow had gone down by more than 100 points earlier in the session.
The Nasdaq Composite closed up 4.64 points, or 0.1%, to end at 4,773.50. CNBC reported that Amazon rallied 2.3% and the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF (IBB) managed to reclaim earlier gains to settle up 0.48%. Apple, which slumped 0.4%, contributed to losses.
The S&P 500 dropped 0.77 points, ending at 2,035.94, despite six of its 10 main sectors closed higher. The financial sector dropped 0.7% and industrials dipped 0.3%. Gains were led by the telecom sector. According to MarketWatch, the energy sector revealed the biggest swing, going from the worst-performing sector to finish as the second best-performing sector as it rose 0.5%.
The stock benchmarks snapped a five-week win streak, with the S&P 500 dropping 0.7% and both the Dow and the Nasdaq dipping 0.5%. US markets are closed Friday, 25 March for Good Friday as part of the Easter weekend.
Oil prices were able to pare down earlier losses after news that the number of US drilling rigs declined by 15. Crude oil settled down 0.8% at $39.46 a barrel. CNBC reported that the US dollar index pared gains after reaching its highest in over a week, but ended its first positive week in four with a surge of more than 1%. The euro held around $1.118 and the yen was at 112.81 yen against the greenback.
"You've got a combination of a pivot in a long-term run in both the dollar and oil and that's going to pressure equities," Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities said.
Gold futures for April delivery settled 0.2% lower at $1,221.60 an ounce, dropping 2.61% for the week, its worst performance since 6 November. Meanwhile, treasury yields ended higher, with the 2-year yield near 0.88% and the 10-year yield around 1.9%.
"The real reason for the market coming down in the last couple of days is the Fed rhetoric," Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial, told CNBC. "Certainly the comments out of [St Louis Federal Reserve President James] Bullard and some of the others indicates we're getting closer to a rate hike."
Bullard said the Fed's next interest rate hike "may not be far off" if the economy evolves as expected, CNBC reported. He told Reuters, however, that he was undecided on whether he would push for a rate hike at the Fed's April meeting. Bullard, who is a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, is the most recent Fed official to suggest rise in rates as soon as April.
Abroad, European stocks closed sharply lower, partly due to commodity companies and the continued fallout from the Brussels attacks earlier in the week. In Asia, the major markets slipped with Japan's Nikkei 225 dipping 0.6% and the Shanghai Composite dropping 1.6%.