U.S. stocks on Thursday were largely lower, as Apple (AAPL) continued a decline from the previous session and latest jobless claims data added strength to the narrative of the Federal Reserve holding rates higher for longer.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (COMP.IND) slid 1.18% to 13,709.42 points in morning trade, with Apple (AAPL) slipping more than 3% for a second straight session for the first time since early November last year. The tech giant’s stock was also headed for its largest two-day decline since early August.
The decline in the shares of the world’s largest publicly-listed firm has been due to concerns sparked by a report on Wednesday that said China had ordered government agencies to stop using iPhones. Wedbush Securities on Thursday called the issue “way overblown.”
The benchmark S&P 500 (SP500) was down 0.45% to 4,445.43 points. The Dow (DJI) outperformed, with the blue-chip gauge up 0.10% to 34,478.91 points. It was helped by a rise in shares of Intel (INTC), helping offset the fall in Apple (AAPL). Citi said the chip giant’s previously disclosed foundry customer could be a ‘whale.’
Of the 11 S&P sectors, six were in positive territory, led by Utilities. Technology was the biggest loser.
Wall Street’s major averages ended in the red in the previous session, after an unexpected rise in a key U.S. services activity gauge and elevated oil prices reignited fears that the Fed would have to keep rates higher for longer to combat inflation. Apple (AAPL) also contributed to the retreat.
Thursday’s economic calendar showed that the number of Americans filing for jobless claims in the past week fell once again. The indicator has remained on a downward path and has stubbornly bucked the trend of other data that has showed cooling in the labor market.
The jobless claims were “likely depressed by Hurricane Idalia,” Pantheon Macro’s Ian Shepherdson said. “Severe weather events often are followed immediately by a dip in claims – because people have better things to do when a hurricane is approaching than making a jobless claim – with a rebound coming afterwards.”
“But the size of the initial dip varies depending on where the storm hits, and the day of the week, so it’s hard to forecast. Unadjusted claims fell in both Florida and Georgia, though it’s impossible to know for sure if this was a storm effect. Our base case is that claims rebound next week, perhaps to 250K-plus, and that the trend in initial claims is stable at about 240K,” Shepherdson added.
Also on the docket today are some Fed officials, with New York Fed President John Williams and Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic slated to speak. The central bank’s balance sheet will be released in the evening.
Turning to the fixed-income markets, Treasury yields were slightly lower on Thursday. The longer-end 10-year yield (US10Y) was down 1 basis point to 4.28%, while the more rate-sensitive 2-year yield (US2Y) was down 5 basis points to 4.98%.
See live data on how Treasury yields are doing across the curve at the Seeking Alpha bond page.
Looking at active movers, Westrock (WRK) was among the top percentage gainers on the S&P 500 (SP500), after it was confirmed that the U.S. producer of containerboard was in talks with Europe’s Smurfit Kappa (OTCPK:SMFTF) over a potential merger.