U.S. stocks closed lower Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping more than 70 points. As the Federal Reserve kept interest rates at historic lows, investors digested a disappointing report that revealed the U.S. economy grew less than expected in the first quarter. Market professionals are looking ahead to Thursday’s economic calendar, which includes weekly jobless claims, or the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment, due out at 8:30 a.m. EDT.
The Dow (INDEXDJX:.DJI) dropped 74.61 points, or 0.41 percent, to close at 18,035.53. The Standard & Poor's 500 (INDEXNASDAQ:.IXIC) lost 7.91 points, or 0.37 percent, to end at 2,106.85. The Nasdaq composite (INDEXSP:.INX) fell 31.78 points, or 0.63 percent, to finish at 5,023.64.
Twitter Inc. (NYSE:TWTR) shares continued to slide, dipping 9 percent to close at $38.49 a day after plunging more than 18 percent. On Tuesday, Twitter's first-quarter profit beat estimates but revenue and mobile monthly active users both missed analysts' forecasts.
Shares of Salesforce.com Inc. (NYSE:CRM) spiked more than 17 percent Wednesday to an all-time high of $78.46 in afternoon trading after a Bloomberg report that the company is working with financial advisers to help with a potential takeover offer.
The Federal Reserve maintained rates at record lows Wednesday, suggesting the central bank will wait to raise rates until after its June meeting. With the U.S. economy growing more slowly than expected in the first quarter, expanding just 0.2 percent, the odds of a late-2015 Fed rate hike have increased.
“The slow start to 2015 means the odds of a June hike are quite low. We maintain our call for a September hike, but downside risks to growth mean increased odds of a December move,” Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, said in a research note Wednesday.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose by 1,000 to 295,000 in the week ended April 18, the Labor Department said last week. Economists expect jobless claims fell 5,000 to 290,000 last week, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Commerce Department will release its consumer spending report for March at 8:30 a.m. EDT Thursday. Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, barely rose in February, edging up 0.1 percent in February after dropping 0.2 percent in January. Economists expect consumer spending to rise 0.5 percent in March, according to Reuters’ data.