Category: Markets / Finance / February 7, 2013 5:50 PM EST
Stocks declined on Thursday (February 7), taking a step back from their recent advance, prompted by comments by the ECB president on the euro and Europe's outlook.
The euro currency dropped against the safe-haven dollar and yen, spurring a retreat from risky assets such as stocks, after European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi said the exchange rate was important to growth and price stability. Investors took that as a sign the bank is concerned about the euro's advance and its effect on the region's economy.
Growth sectors were among the weakest performers on the S&P 500: the S&P 500 materials index was down 0.6 percent while the S&P energy index was down 0.5 percent. Housing stocks also declined, with a housing sector index off 1.4 percent.
Despite the day's decline and weakness earlier this week, the stock market has been in an almost uninterrupted up trend for most of the year, with the S&P 500 up 5.8 percent so far for 2013.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 42.47 points, or 0.30 percent, at 13,944.05. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was down 2.73 points, or 0.18 percent, at 1,509.39. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 3.34 points, or 0.11 percent, at 3,165.13.
Shares of Apple helped to limit losses on the Nasdaq, the stock ending up 3 percent at $468.22 (USD). Fund manager David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital said it has sued Apple Inc and said the company needs to do more to unlock value for shareholders.
Though the earnings season is winding down, results continue to boost growth estimates for the fourth quarter. According to Thomson Reuters data through Thursday morning, of 317 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 69 percent have exceeded analysts' expectations, above a 62 percent average since 1994 and 65 percent over the past four quarters.
Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies rose 5 percent, according to the data, above a 1.9 percent forecast at the start of the earnings season.
(Video Source: Reuters)