The market has been mostly in rally mode since April as investors focused on the prospects for an economic turnaround as broad areas of the economy reopened.
Utilities, down 0.9%, showed the smallest percentage decline as it is seen as a defensive sector with predictable revenue. Asian shares were mostly higher on Wednesday with another mood boost from.
Wall Street's major indexes closed higher on Thursday, with bank stocks soaring after USA banking regulators unveiled new rules that will make life easier for large banks with complex trading and investment portfolios.
The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 1% to 22,488.95 while Seoul's Kospi gained 0.7% to 2,128.23.
The announcement gave an immediate boost to bank stocks because the rule change could free up billions of dollars in capital in the banking industry. The Russell 2000 index was off 0.1%.
The S&P 500 .SPX opened lower by 10.56 points, or 0.34%, at 3,073.20. The selling followed a skid in European stock indexes. The selling, which followed a skid in European stock indexes, accelerated around mid-morning on news that New York, New Jersey and CT will require visitors from states with high infection rates to quarantine for 14 days.
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Fresh figures showed USA consumer spending rose 8.2% in May after seeing a record drop in April, reflecting looser restrictions on businesses, federal stimulus and stepped-up unemployment payments.
Advanced economies have been particularly hard hit, with USA output now expected to shrink 8.0%, more than two percentage points worse than the April forecast. That helped send markets tumbling on worries that such a move might spiral into another trade war, said Jingyi Pan of IG.
This bearish market activity comes after US Covid-19 cases continue to spike.
The Trump administration is considering new tariffs on $3.1 billion exports from France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, according to a notice from the U.S. Trade Representative released Tuesday evening. Financial, health care, communication services and industrial sector stocks also took heavy losses.
U.S. stocks reversed earlier losses to finish higher on Thursday, bolstered by a rally in bank shares.
Cruise lines, which would stand to suffer greatly if travel restrictions are extended, were among Wednesday's biggest losers in the S&P 500. Shares in airlines slumped, too.
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The broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.7 per cent to 3,060.82, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.8 per cent to 9,939.71. By comparison, Dow, Boeing and Exxon Mobil were the worst performing Dow stocks - down between 4.71% and 7.01%. The benchmark index is on pace for its best quarter since 1998.
But the recent surge in new infections is undercutting some of that optimism.
Hospitalizations and cases have hit new highs in California, Florida and Texas, which is suspending its aggressive reopening. Arizona's cases jumped by 5.1%, topping a seven-day average of 2.3%. Bond yields fell, another sign of caution in the market.
Stocks have been volatile this week as investors try to assess the implications of the current phase of the coronavirus crisis and whether it will be as devastating to the economy as the shutdowns earlier this year.
In energy markets, benchmark USA crude rose 43 cents to $39.15 per barrel.
It closed up 3.6 per cent on Thursday. Brent crude, the worldwide standard, fell 5.4 per cent to close at $40.31.
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