Stocks Sink, Weighed Down by Economic Concerns (Update2)
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Major U.S. stock averages weakened Thursday as doubts about the strength of the U.S. economy weighed on investors' minds.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 50 points, or 0.4%, to 13,861.
Most sectors in the broad market fell, with the consumer non-cyclical, capital goods and energy sectors posting the biggest losses. The services, financial and utilities sectors traded higher.
Volumes totaled 3.94 billion shares on the Big Board and 2.17 billion shares on the Nasdaq. Advancers edged decliners by a ratio of 1.1-to-1 on the New York Stock Exchange, and 1.6-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
Greywolf chief technical analyst Mark Newton told TheStreet in an interview Wednesday evening that a report about the contraction of the economy was a "big eye opener" and "shock" to many people, noting that even as the Federal Reserve continues to pump $85 billion a month into the economy -- buying mortgage-backed securities and Treasuries -- "unemployment is still elevated and you're still seeing now signs of negative growth."
In the wake of the prior session's GDP number, Newton said he wasn't certain that Thursday's economic numbers were going to have any "big detail."
Newton also noted that traders have been concerned about increasing signs of momentum divergence; in the last couple of years, indices have been grinding higher and higher, but momentum continues to lag and volume has been weak.
He said the market is now at levels where the AAII and other sentiment polls are showing nearly a 30% spread between bulls and bears. Historically, those have been times when indices have made at least minor price corrections.
In U.S. economic news Thursday, the Chicago PMI registered an increase to 55.6 in January, its highest level since April 2012, from an upwardly revised 50 level. Economists were calling for a read of 50.5.
"The positive surprise for the month was due, in part, to a strong seasonal factor," said Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas.
With the release of the Chicago PMI data, all the latest regional manufacturing surveys are now available ahead the national ISM manufacturing index due Friday. Dwyer said four of the six regional surveys that BNP Paribas economists follow fell for the month, suggesting the national ISM index could drop by a modest 0.5 point to 49.7 in January, in line with their current expectations.