US stocks ended mixed on Thursday as investors awaited Friday’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs report and slightly weaker than expected economic reports on jobless claims even as Chicago Purchasing Managers index weighed on the sentiment.
The S&P 500 Index lost 2.43 points, or 0.18 percent, to end at 1,325.83. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 30.88 points, or 0.25 percent, to close at 12,319.73. However the Nadasq Composite managed to rise 0.15 percent as technology stocks like Symantec (NASDAQ:SYMC), Infosys (NASDAQ:INFY), and Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) all rallied at least 1 percent.
The Department of Labor reported that initial jobless claims declined by 6,000 to 388,000 for the week ended March 26 from the previous week's revised figure of 394,000, while economists expected 380,000. The 4-week moving average of initial claims increased 3,250 to 394,250 from the previous week's revised average of 391,000.
The weekly jobless claims data comes a day ahead of the government's monthly nonfarm payrolls report, which is the most closely-watched economic data pertaining to the jobs market and is a key gauge for the direction and pace of the economic recovery.
The median forecast for the non-farm payrolls is a gain of 188,000 jobs in March, compared with a gain of 192,000 jobs in the previous month, while the unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 8.9 percent.
In other economic data, the Chicago Purchasing Managers index fell to 70.6 in March from 71.2 in February, while news orders for manufactured goods declined by 0.1 per cent in February compared to a gain of 3.3 percent in January.
On the corporate front, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE:BRK.B) shares declined 2.14 percent to $83.63 following the surprise resignation of David Sokol, one of Warren Buffett's top lieutenants. David Sokol purchased shares of Lubrizol for about $9 million before urging Buffett to buy the firm.
CarMax (NYSE: KMX) stock fell 7.2 percent to $32.10 despite strong quarterly results. For the fourth quarter, the company earned $89.5 million or 39 cents a share, higher than $75.4 million, or 33 cents a share last year. Net sales and operating revenues increased 23 percent to $2.25 billion.
Among financials, Bank of America declined 0.89 percent and JPMorgan Chase fell 0.75 percent, while Citigroup declined 0.67 percent.