Dow Down for 3rd Day in Row on Fed Concerns

The S&P 500 clawed back earlier losses Thursday in the face of concerns that the Federal Reserve could remove stimulus this year, slowing an economy hurt by the spread of the COVID delta variant.

The Dow Jones Industrials were negative 76.12 points, to 34.884.57.

The S&P 500 doffed 11.22 points to 4,389.05.

The NASDAQ let go of 34.87 points to 14,491.04.

Meeting minutes from the Fed’s gathering in July showed the central bank has started eyeing tapering its $120 billion in monthly bond purchases before the year-end.

Shares of tech stocks including Microsoft, Netflix and Nvidia punched into the green, helping to boost the benchmark S&P 500 off its morning lows. Nvidia’s stock inched higher after the chip giant’s quarterly earnings and revenue beat Wall Street estimates amid strong graphics cards sales.

Defensive stocks like consumer staples and health-care names gained, helping to stem the decline. Procter & Gamble shares added 0.9%. Merck gained more than 1%.

Stocks closely linked to the economy led losses. Steelmaker Nucor lost about 3%. Oil companies Devon Energy and Occidental Petroleum shed more than 5% and 4%, respectively. Miner Freeport-McMoRan fell around 6%. General Motors fell more than 2%. Reopening plays like airlines and hotels were also lower.

Goldman Sachs cut its economic growth forecast for the current quarter to 5.5% from 9% Wednesday night, adding to the negative sentiment. The firm also sees higher inflation than expected for the rest of the year.

Investors digested mixed economic data released Thursday. First-time jobless claims last week hit a new pandemic-era low at 348,000, declining more than expected from the week prior.

The Philadelphia Fed Index, a gauge of growth in the region, still indicated expansion but at a level worse than expected. The August reading was 19.4, below the 22 consensus of economists polled by Dow Jones.

Prices for 10-Year Treasurys gained strength, lowering yields to 1.24% from Wednesday’s 1.27%. Treasury prices and yields move in opposite directions.

Oil prices slipped $2.13 to $63.33 U.S. a barrel.

Gold prices trudged $2.60 lower to $1,781.60 U.S. an ounce.