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US close: Stocks pull back after recent gains, Fed in focus

- Markets begin to look ahead to Fed
– S&P 500 snaps seven-day winning streak
– Jobless claims decline, but confidence in data shaky

Dow Jones: 0.17%
Nasdaq: 0.24%
S&P 500: 0.36%

US stocks posted moderate falls on Thursday, pulling back after recent gains, as investors turned cautious ahead of next week’s all-important Federal Reserve policy meeting. Reports that Syria might not so readily hand over its chemical weapons stockpile also impacted on trading.

The S&P 500 snapped a seven-day winning streak, its longest string of consecutive gains since July, taking the index to within 1.2% of its all-time high.

Traders seem reluctant to take on too much risk ahead of the two-day Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

Employment data has been closely watched after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said back in May that he was looking for a decent recovery in the labour market before beginning the ‘tapering’ of quantitative easing.

Markets are hoping that – in light of last week’s worse-than-expected US jobs report – policymakers might wait until later on in the year before pulling the plug on stimulus, as they await stronger signs of a recovery.

Jobless claims drop

Initial US weekly unemployment claims dropped by 31,000 in the week ended on September 7th to 292,000 – their lowest level since April of 2006. The consensus estimate had been for a reading of 323,000.

However, markets gave a subdued reaction to the numbers today after the Labor Department said that work carried out on computer systems in two states caused those employment agencies to report fewer applications. Financial Sales Trader Lee Mumford from Spreadex said that the figures ‘should be taken with a pitch of salt’.

In other economic news, US import prices were unchanged month-on-month in August, instead of the 0.5% gain expected by markets.

Syria still in focus

Developments in Syria continued to rumble on in the background on Thursday as President Bashar al-Assad reportedly ‘confirmed’ that he will agree to Russia’s plan to place chemical weapons under international control as long as the US agrees not to take military action.

Later reports, however, indicated that in exchange al-Assad asks that the US stop supplying the rebels with weapons, which he claims America is doing.

US intelligence says that Assad’s regime was behind the attacks last month that killed around one and a half thousand people.

Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday called on the US not to intervene in Syria, especially if action is not approved by the United Nations first, given that it could lead to more violence and ‘unleash a new wave of terrorism’.

‘President Obama is not having an easy ride at the moment. It is one thing having your overseas policies questioned by the opposition, but having Russian President Vladimir Putin take a swipe at them in The New York Times is quite another,’ said Alastair McCaig, Market Analyst at IG.

Pandora surges after appointing new CEO

Pandora Media, the online radio service company, surged after appointing Brian McAndrews as its new Chief Executive, succeeding Joe Kennedy who announced his intention to step down in March. McAndrews is said to be a digital-advertising veteran.

Barrick Gold and Newmont Mining were heavy fallers after the price of gold slumped its most in nine weeks.

Entertainment group Walt Disney was a high riser after announcing a share buyback of as much as $8bn which will start next year.

Apple was rebounding slightly after some heavy falls on Wednesday following the underwhelming release of two new iPhone models. The stock was hit by a number of broker downgrades the day before as analysts raised concerns about the high price of ‘cheaper’ iPhone 5C.

S&P 500 – Risers
Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) $58.83 +5.43%
Walgreen Co. (WAG) $53.29 +5.00%
Sprint Nextel Corporation (S) $6.69 +2.92%
Iron Mountain Inc. (IRM) $26.58 +2.67%
Kroger Co. (KR) $38.62 +2.52%
Walt Disney Co. (DIS) $65.49 +2.42%
Pinnacle West Capital Corp. (PNW) $53.45 +2.16%
Dominion Resources Inc. (D) $59.78 +2.00%
Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) $47.35 +1.78%
Mylan Inc. (MYL) $38.72 +1.76%

S&P 500 – Fallers
Cliffs Natural Resources Inc. (CLF) $22.42 -5.16%
Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM) $28.23 -4.18%
Valero Energy Corp. (VLO) $34.70 -3.80%
Textron Inc. (TXT) $28.43 -3.23%
First Solar Inc. (FSLR) $38.34 -3.18%
Crown Castle International (CCI) $70.83 -3.01%
Corning Inc. (GLW) $14.49 -2.69%
Tesoro Corp. (TSO) $44.82 -2.57%
International Paper Co. (IP) $48.13 -2.49%
Dow Chemical Co. (DOW) $38.86 -2.48%

Dow Jones I.A – Risers
Walt Disney Co. (DIS) $65.49 +2.42%
Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) $47.35 +1.78%
AT&T Inc. (T) $34.38 +1.19%
Boeing Co. (BA) $109.80 +0.52%
Home Depot Inc. (HD) $75.40 +0.48%
American Express Co. (AXP) $75.29 +0.15%
International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) $190.73 +0.02%

Dow Jones I.A – Fallers
JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) $52.24 -1.92%
Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) $21.96 -1.39%
E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. (DD) $58.06 -1.31%
Pfizer Inc. (PFE) $28.31 -1.26%
Bank of America Corp. (BAC) $14.48 -1.16%
General Electric Co. (GE) $23.85 -1.00%
Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) $87.98 -0.97%
Coca-Cola Co. (KO) $38.44 -0.88%
Intel Corp. (INTC) $22.63 -0.79%
Travelers Company Inc. (TRV) $83.12 -0.73%

Nasdaq 100 – Risers
Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) $58.83 +5.43%
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. (VRTX) $81.40 +1.99%
Mylan Inc. (MYL) $38.72 +1.76%
Citrix Systems Inc. (CTXS) $73.72 +1.68%
Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) $29.65 +1.58%
Amgen Inc. (AMGN) $113.46 +1.33%
Apple Inc. (AAPL) $472.69 +1.06%
QUALCOMM Inc. (QCOM) $68.81 +1.06%
Akamai Technologies Inc. (AKAM) $50.57 +0.89%
Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA) $164.93 +0.86%

Nasdaq 100 – Fallers
Randgold Resources Ltd. Ads (GOLD) $69.92 -4.91%
Sirius XM Radio Inc (SIRI) $3.78 -2.45%
Nuance Communications Inc. (NUAN) $19.50 -2.35%
Netflix Inc. (NFLX) $301.41 -2.24%
Western Digital Corp. (WDC) $64.48 -2.07%
Garmin Ltd. (GRMN) $42.40 -1.92%
Baidu Inc. (BIDU) $144.50 -1.91%
Micron Technology Inc. (MU) $16.20 -1.76%
Expedia Inc. (EXPE) $51.18 -1.75%
Sba Communications Corp. (SBAC) $77.24 -1.69%


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