U.S. stocks closed mixed Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping more than 100 points, after Wall Street weighed the Federal Reserve’s cautious approach to interest rate hikes. Meanwhile, a stronger U.S. dollar put downward pressure on commodities, sending the price of oil tumbling more than 2 percent.
The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI), which measures the share prices of 30 large industrial companies, dropped 117.16 points, or 0.65 percent, to close at 17,959.03. The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) lost 10.23 points, or 0.49 percent, to end at 2,089.27.
However, the Nasdaq composite (INDEXSP:.INX) added 9.55 points, or 0.19 percent, to finish at 4,992.38. The tech-heavy index was boosted after Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) shares rose more than 2 percent Thursday to close at $82.75, its best weekly gain in five months. Meanwhile, shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) edged down 0.76 percent to close at $127.50 after the world’s most valuable company kicked off its first day of trading on the Dow following Visa Inc.’s 4-1 stock split.
Oil prices reversed and closed sharply lower Thursday, driven by a strengthening U.S. dollar. Crude oil futures also fell under pressure after a minister from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said the group has "no choice" but to keep its current ceiling of production. Following the statement, West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, dropped 1.57 percent to close at $43.96 a barrel, for April 15 delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil prices, dropped $1.50 to end at $54.46 a barrel, for May 15 delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
Investors took a breather in early trading Thursday, a day after the Dow soared more than 200 points and all three major indexes gained more than 1 percent after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) dropped its "patient" stance in its monetary policy statement. Although the central bank hinted it could raise rates as soon as June, it downgraded its outlook for the U.S. economy this year for GDP and inflation. “Investors woke up today and realized not a lot has really changed from the Fed’s previous stance, as far as the underlying economic factors,” said Pete Benson, co-owner and partner of Beacon Capital Management.
No major U.S. economic data is scheduled for Friday.