US stocks lost ground on Thursday as grim economic data and mixed earnings prompted investors to take profits at the close of the S&P 500’s best month in 33 years, a remarkable run driven by expectations the economy will soon start recovering from crushing restrictions enacted to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
While risk-off selling pulled all three major U.S. stock averages into the red, the S&P 500 and the Dow posted their largest monthly percentage gains since January 1987, with the Nasdaq having its best month since June 2000.
The three indices remain well within 20% of record highs reached in February, having quickly rebounded since shutdown efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic brought the economy to a grinding halt.
The five-week tally of unemployment claims topped 30 million and consumer spending has plummeted, according to the latest round of dismal indicators providing another snapshot of the crushing economic effects of the widespread shutdown
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 288.14 points, or 1.17%, to 24,345.72, the S&P 500 lost 27.08 points, or 0.92%, to 2,912.43 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 25.16 points, or 0.28%, to 8,889.55
Of the 11 major sectors in the S&P 500, all but consumer discretionary and communications services closed in negative territory, with materials and financials suffering the largest percentage losses.
In Asia, Japanese stocks were under pressure after purchasing managers’ index data for April signalled the sharpest drop since 2009, as the pandemic spurred factory shutdowns and a collapse in demand.
Oil prices added to Thursday’s gains. International benchmark Brent rose 1.5 per cent to $26.88 a barrel, while US marker West Texas Intermediate climbed 3.6 per cent to $19.52