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U.S. Stocks Stage Late Recovery Attempt But Still Close Sharply Lower

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Stocks saw significant weakness during trading on Thursday, extending the moderate downward move seen in the previous session. With the steep drop on the day, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended the session at its lowest closing level in over two months.

The major averages climbed well off their worst levels late in the trading day but still closed sharply lower. The Dow tumbled 286.14 points or 1.1 percent to 25,490.47, the Nasdaq plunged 122.56 points or 1.6 percent to 7,628.28 and the S&P 500 slumped 34.03 points or 1.2 percent to 2,822.24.

Lingering trade concerns contributed to the sell-off on Wall Street amid further indications of rising tensions between the U.S. and China.

During a weekly briefly, Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng said the Trump administration must "show sincerity and correct their wrong actions" if the U.S. wants trade talks to continue.

"Negotiations can only continue on the basis of equality and mutual respect," Gao said, noting that China is closely monitoring developments and preparing a necessary response.

U.S. and China trade talks collapsed earlier this month as President Donald Trump followed through on a threat to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25 percent from 10 percent.

The Trump administration also blocked U.S. companies from doing business with Chinese telecom giant Huawei but recently gave the company a 90-day reprieve.

With both sides seemingly unwilling to back down, traders are becoming increasingly wary of the impact of the trade dispute on the global economy.

In U.S. economic news, the Labor Department released a report showing initial jobless claims unexpectedly edged lower in the week ended May 18th.

The report said initial jobless claims dipped to 211,000, a decrease of 1,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 212,000. Economists had expected initial jobless claims to inch up to 215,000.

A separate report from the Commerce Department showed new home sales pulled back by much more than anticipated in the month of April.

The Commerce Department said new home sales plunged by 6.9 percent to an annual rate of 673,000 in April after spiking by 8.1 percent to an upwardly revised rate of 723,000 in March.

Economists had expected new home sales to drop by about 2.5 percent to a rate of 675,000 from the 692,000 originally reported for the previous month.

Sector News

Energy stocks turned in some of the market's worst performances on the day amid a steep drop by the price of crude oil. Crude for July delivery plummeted $3.51 to $57.91 a barrel amid concerns about the outlook for global demand.

Reflecting the weakness in the energy sector, the Philadelphia Oil Service Index plunged by 5.8 percent, while the NYSE Natural Gas Index and the NYSE Arca Oil Index tumbled by 3.7 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

Substantial weakness was also visible among computer hardware stocks, as reflected by the 2.6 percent nosedive by the NYSE Arca Computer Hardware Index.

Data storage company NetApp (NTAP) posted a steep loss after reporting weaker than expected fiscal fourth quarter results and providing disappointing guidance.

Steel, networking, banking and semiconductor stocks also moved notably lower on the day amid broad based weakness on Wall Street.

Other Markets

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region moved mostly lower on Thursday after closing mixed for several days. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index dropped by 0.6 percent, while China's Shanghai Composite Index tumbled by 1.4 percent.

The major European markets also showed notable moves to the downside on the day. While the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index slumped by 1.4 percent, the German DAX Index and the French CAC 40 Index both plunged by 1.8 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries moved sharply higher amid the sell-off on Wall Street. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moved opposite of its price, tumbled by 9.7 basis points to a more than one-year closing low of 2.296 percent.

Looking Ahead

A report on durable goods orders in April may attract some attention on Friday, although trading activity may be somewhat subdued as traders look to get a head start on the long Memorial Day weekend.

On the earnings front, Autodesk (ADSK), Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), HP Inc. (HPQ) and Intuit (INTU) are among the companies releasing their quarterly results after the close of today's trading.

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