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U.S. stocks flat halting 5-week winning streak ahead of Easter holiday

CommoditiesMar 24, 2016 04:37PM ET
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The Dow and NASDAQ ticked up on Thursday, while the S&P 500 closed slightly lower -- U.S. stocks were relatively flat in a thinly traded session ahead of the Good Friday holiday, as the major indices halted a considerable five-week winning streak.

The major indices experienced little movement in Thursday's session, in spite of continued hawkish positioning from key Federal Reserve policymakers and soft monthly durable goods data. U.S. equities also remained in lockstep with oil prices, as WTI crude posted slight losses for the day. Domestic crude futures in the U.S. fell approximately 5%, halting a significant rally when the price of oil rebounded more than 40% over the prior five weeks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 13.14 or 0.08%, while the NASDAQ Composite index gained 4.65 or 0.10% to 4,773.51, after spending the majority of the session in negative territory. The S&P 500 Composite index, meanwhile, fell 0.77 or 0.04% to 2,035.94, even as six of 10 sectors closed in the red. Stocks in the Financials sector lagged, while stocks in the Telecommunications and Utilities industries led.

The major indices are still up approximately 10% from their lows in mid-February following a major sell-off to open the year.

The top performer was Caterpillar Inc (NYSE:CAT), which added 1.61 or 2.19% to 75.29 after the world's largest manufacturer of mining and construction equipment received an upgrade from analysts at OTR Global. Shares in Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT) have struggled over the last amid a massive rout among global commodities. The worst performer was Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE), which fell 0.79 or 1.27% to 61.65, extending a mild losing streak over the last three sessions. Nike shares have declined approximately 5% this week in the wake of disappointing revenues in the emerging markets during its third quarter.

The biggest gainer on the NASDAQ was Incyte Corporation (NASDAQ:INCY), which added 2.33 or 3.46% to 69.76 after the Delaware-based pharmaceutical company was initiated with an overweight rating from analysts at MS at a price of $85 a share. Earlier this week, officials in New Castle County, Delaware, approved Incyte's proposal which will allow the company to add office space to the 180,000 square foot building it purchased in 2014. The new building will accommodate an additional 450 employees, Incyte said. The worst performer was Seagate Technology (NASDAQ:STX), which fell 1.57 or 4.51% to 33.23. Shares in the California-based American data storage company are down more than 35% over the last year.

The top performer on the S&P 500 was PVH Corp (NYSE:PVH), which jumped 6.66 or 7.60% to 94.29, one day after the global apparel provider topped analysts' estimates with its fourth quarter earnings.The worst performer was Williams Companies Inc (NYSE:WMB), which sunk 0.91 or 5.60% to 15.35 after Energy Transfer Corporation disclosed in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission that the Oklahoma-based company's operations will be "significantly reduced," if a proposed merger is completed. In an effort to reduce administrative and general expenses, Energy Transfer told the SEC that the companies will likely have to consolidate its corporate offices, resulting in potential reductions in "finance, accounting, engineering and construction, legal, human resources and information technology functions."

On the New York Stock Exchange, advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by a 1,555 to 1,504 margin.

U.S. stocks flat halting 5-week winning streak ahead of Easter holiday

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