U.S. stocks closed mostly lower Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 ending lower, after oil prices sank more than 5 percent after U.S. commercial inventories remained at their highest level in 80 years. However, the Nasdaq rose as high as 4,989.11 on Thursday, coming within just 11 points of hitting the psychologically important 5,000 level last touched during the dot-com bubble.
Meanwhile, investors weighed a batch of mixed data that revealed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week jumped by the most since December 2013.
The Dow, measuring the share prices of 30 large industrial companies, lost 10.15 points, or 0.06 percent, to close at 18,214.42. The S&P 500 stock index dropped 3.12 points, or 0.15 percent, to end at 2,110.74. However, the Nasdaq Composite gained 20.75 points, or 0.42 percent, to finish at 4,987.89.
Oil prices traded lower Thursday after data a day earlier showed U.S. crude inventories hit another record high for the seventh straight week. U.S. commercial crude oil inventories rose by 8.4 million barrels last week, to a record 434.1 million barrels, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Wednesday. U.S. crude oil inventories are at the highest level for this time of year in at least the last 80 years.
West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, fell 5.5 percent, to close at $48.17 a barrel, for April 15 delivery on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Meanwhile, Brent crude, the benchmark for global oil prices, lost $1.60 to close at $60 a barrel, for April 15 delivery on the London ICE Futures Exchange.
U.S. stocks traded mostly lower Thursday after data showed weekly jobless claims rose by the most in six weeks, climbing 31,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 313,000, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday. Separately, the Consumer Price Index, a key measure the U.S. Federal Reserve uses to gauge inflation, declined 0.7 percent last month, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Thursday.
Economists are looking ahead to Friday’s revision to last quarter's gross domestic product (GDP), the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the U.S. economy. U.S. GDP initially showed the economy cooled last quarter, growing at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter, missing analysts’ expectations for 3.1 percent growth, according to analysts polled by Thomson Reuters. Economists forecast U.S. economic growth to have expanded at a 2.1 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate last quarter, according to Reuters' data.