U.S. stocks slammed by central-bank jitters
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- U.S. stocks Thursday were hit by thinking the next European Central Bank meeting would not deliver the promised results and that the Federal Reserve's Jackson Hole gathering could prove to be a nonevent.
"I suspect the market would be surprised if anything substantive came out of Jackson Hole: the big one now is next Thursday when ECB meets. [ECB President Mario] Draghi said we'll do whatever it takes, and he specifically referenced this meeting," said John De Clue, global investment strategist at U.S. Wealth Management in Minneapolis.
Draghi's recent decision to pull out of the Fed's annual symposium promoted chatter that "within the ECB they do not have a consensus for a plan for supporting the peripheral bond markets in Europe," De Clue said.
After falling below 13,000 for the first time in nearly four weeks, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost 106.77 points, or 0.8%, to end at 13,000.71.
Finishing below 1,400 for the first time in four weeks, the S&P 500 index (SPX) declined 11.01 points, or 0.8%, to 1,399.48, with technology pacing the losses among its 10 sectors.
The Nasdaq Composite index (COMP) fell 32.48 points, or 1.1%, to 3,048.71.
For every stock on the rise nearly three fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where nearly 511 million shares traded. Composite volume was nearly 2.5 billion.
Equities had spent much of the week in a narrow range ahead of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech Friday in Wyoming.
"The market is beginning to realize Bernanke isn't going to say anything definitive tomorrow; he'll leave that for the FOMC meeting, and also to allow the ECB to meet," Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott, said of the Federal Open Market Committee gathering on Sept. 13, and the European Central Bank's monetary-policy decision on Sept. 6.
Oil below $95 a barrel
Oil retreated, with crude futures (CLV2) falling 0.9% to $94.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Retailers including discount chain
In Madrid, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy held talks with French President Francois Hollande, with both men calling on the European Central Bank to act to lower borrowing costs for euro-area nations.
Rajoy told a news conference he would move on any rescue requests only after he knew the conditions being offered, Bloomberg News reported.
"Further delay could mean further deterioration," said Luschini.
A report Thursday had economic confidence in the euro area declining more than expected in August and retail sales in Japan retreating in July.
U.S. economic reports had consumer spending rising 0.4% in August and jobless claims holding steady last week at 374,000. Read more on consumer spending.