The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Stocks Stumble for Second Day

Size of daily swings has diminished in recent sessions; ‘everybody is catching their breath’

By Saumya Vaishampayan


U.S. stocks sputtered Wednesday, further crimping a rally that had carried major indexes to their highest levels since December.

The size of daily swings has diminished in recent sessions. The S&P 500 moved less than 1% for the eighth session in a row Wednesday, its longest such streak since August.

“People are just emotionally spent,” said Larry Peruzzi, managing director of international equity trading at Mischler Financial. “It’s been a roller coaster, and now everybody is catching their breath and figuring out what the next move is here.”


On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 79.98 points, or 0.5%, to 17502.59. The S&P 500 fell 13.09, or 0.6%, to 2036.71—dropping back into negative territory for the year—and the Nasdaq Composite lost 52.80, or 1.1%, to 4768.86.

Even with the two-day pullback, the Dow industrials and S&P 500 have advanced more than 11% since their 2016 lows on Feb. 11.

“It has been a fairly significant rebound,” said Jim Dunigan, chief investment officer at PNC Wealth Management. “The picture has improved from an economic backdrop standpoint…but not enough necessarily to suggest that we can propel the rally from here.”

Few major economic or corporate events are scheduled this week, while several markets will be closed for the Good Friday holiday.

Energy stocks led the S&P 500 lower, falling 2.1% as oil prices fell. U.S. crude oil tumbled 4% to $39.79 a barrel as U.S. government data confirmed a large rise in crude stockpiles, adding to the global glut of oil. The first quarter now has the most daily drops of at least 2% in the front-month Nymex crude contract since the first quarter of 2009.

The dollar continued to gain against the euro and yen, recovering from last week’s selloff. The euro fell 0.3% against the dollar to $1.1182. The pound, which fell sharply on Tuesday, extended its declines against the dollar; sterling declined 0.6% to $1.4117.

Recent upbeat comments on the U.S. economy from Federal Reserve officials lifted the greenback, as did remarks Wednesday by St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard suggesting that an interest-rate increase in April remains a possibility.

“This year, the story is going to be that the [U.S.] economy is, little by little, getting better…and the stock market is really trying to find its way,” said Ralph Segall, chief investment officer at Segall Bryant & Hamill, which manages about $10 billion in Chicago

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.873%, from 1.935% on Tuesday, as prices rose. Gold fell 2% to $1,223.70 an ounce.

Overseas, the Stoxx Europe 600 gave up earlier gains to end 0.1% lower. Markets in Asia mostly edged lower on Wednesday.

—Riva Gold contributed to this article.

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