Stocks Pivot Sharply Lower in Final Hours of Trading

Profit-taking gripped Wall Street for much of the day

Deputy Editor
Mar 23, 2021 at 4:27 PM
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After struggling for direction most of the day, stocks finished the session sharply lower, with losses exacerbated in the final hour of trading. On the one-year anniversary of the pandemic bottom, investors moved to profit-taking in reopening stocks as Covid-19 variants cause another uptick in cases globally. The Dow logged a triple digit loss, falling 308 points, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq dipped too.  

Wall Street's "fear gauge," the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX), finished the day higher after earlier falling to its lowest point in over a year. Elsewhere, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen appeared before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services, a joint appearance in which the duo reinforced the central bank's monetary policy.

Continue reading for more on today's market, including:

  • Call traders flocked to this FAANG name after an upgrade.
  • Dividend investors may want to consider Hormel Food stock.
  • Plus, why analysts love Southwest Airline stock; DISCA takes a breather; and Microsoft popped on buyout buzz.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI - 32,423.15) fell 308.1 points, or 0.9% today. Procter & Gamble (PG) topped the list of Dow components with a 1.9% rise, while Dow Inc (DOW) fell 4.4% to pace the laggards.

Meanwhile, the S&P 500 Index (SPX - 3,910.52) shed 30.1 points, or 0.8% for the day. The Nasdaq Composite (IXIC - 13,227.70) lost 149.9 points, or 1.1% for the day.

Lastly, the Cboe Volatility Index (VIX - 20.30) rose 1.4 point, or 7.5%, on the day.

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  1. The current bull market celebrated its one-year anniversary today, and here's what investors can expect heading into year two. (CNBC)
  2. Despite promises from Federal Reserve leaders, a number of economists say the central bank will be forced to raise interest rates sooner rather than later. (MarketWatch)
  3. Analyst praise sent this airline stock higher.
  4. Discovery stock took a dip after a downgrade.
  5. Options bulls piled on MSFT following Discord buyout talks.

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Oil Takes Another Breather as U.S. Dollar Strengthens 

Oil prices slipped into correction territory today, dragged down by new lockdown measures and lackluster vaccine distribution in Europe. In addition, a stronger U.S. dollar is putting pressure on black gold, as it makes oil more expensive for those holding other currencies. In response, May-dated crude shed $3.80, or 6.2%, to settle at $57.76 per barrel.

Gold prices tumbled as well, thanks to the strengthening dollar. A dip in Treasury yields kept further losses in check, and investors reacted to the latest latest testimony from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. As a result, April-dated gold lost $13, or 0.8%, to settle at $1,725.10 an ounce.


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