U.S. crude prices pared losses after hitting a four-month low of $48.79 before the open, following a record rise in inventories. [O/R]
The S&P 500 energy index .SPNY was down 0.8 percent, trading at its lowest level since November.
The European Central Bank kept its policy stance unchanged and remained dovish on its outlook ahead of key elections in France and the Netherlands and as a surge in inflation that is expected to be temporary.
“I think we are headed for another defensive day, based on climbing yields, falling oil prices and tomorrow’s employment number, which will be another confirmation that the Fed may be more aggressive in raising rates than previously expected,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at First Standard Financial in New York.
The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC was down 5.36 points, or 0.09 percent, at 5,832.19. Apple (AAPL.O), which has been trading close to record highs, was off 0.9 percent and kept the tech-heavy index in the red.
A Labor Department report on Thursday showed the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rose to 243,000 last week, but remained below 300,000 for the 105th week, pointing to a healthy labor market.
Seven, of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 0.4 percent increase in financials .SPSY. Almost all big U.S. bank stocks were up about 0.5 percent.
American International Group (AIG.N) was up 1.7 percent at $64.50 after Chief Executive Officer Peter Hancock said he would resign.
Shares of e.l.f Beauty (ELF.N) jumped 16 percent to $29.55 following the cosmetics maker’s better-than-expected quarterly revenue.
Declining issues outnumbered advancers on the NYSE by 1,511 to 1,067. On the Nasdaq, 1,111 issues rose and 1,052 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed two new 52-week highs and six new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 12 new highs and 13 new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)