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Stocks - Dow Posts Triple-Digit Loss as ECB Flags Slowing Growth

Investing.com - The Dow closed lower Thursday, as sentiment on stocks was soured by slowing global growth concerns after the European Central Bank slashed its growth forecasts and launched fresh stimulus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.78% or 200 points, after falling as many as 321 points. The S&P 500 lost 0.81%, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.13%. The S&P broke below its 200-day moving average for the first time since Feb. 11.

In the clearest signal yet the global economy is stuck in a rut, European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said sizable moderation in euro-area growth would continue into the current year.

Draghi's downbeat remarks arrived just after the ECB downgraded its forecast on 2019 euro-area growth to 1.1% from a previous forecast of 1.7%. The central bank also detailed fresh stimulus measures intended to encourage lending, just three months after announcing an end to its bond-buying program.

Concerns about slowing global growth fueled demand for U.S. government bonds, pushing prices higher and yields lower, keeping a lid on bank stocks.

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), Citigroup (NYSE:C) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) fell 1% as 10-Year Treasury yields ended the day lower.

Falling Treasury yields are seen as a headwind for banks, reducing their net interest margin, the difference between the interest income generated by operations and the amount of interest paid out to their lenders.

Energy stocks struggled to shake off the broad market selloff. U.S. oil prices settled higher, but remained under pressure as traders continued to weigh up ongoing output cuts from major oil producers against data from a day earlier showing a surge in domestic crude supplies.

As the curtain closes on the quarterly earnings season, the latest batch of corporate results were mostly negative, adding to losses in the major averages.

Kroger (NYSE:KR) stock slumped 10% after the grocery store chain released fourth-quarter results that missed expectations from Investing.com on both the top and bottom lines.

American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE:AEO) stock ended the day 0.38% lower after clawing back early losses following softer-than-expected first-quarter guidance.

On the economic front, investors digested mixed economic data showing subdued quarterly productivity gains and a decline in jobless claims.

The decline in jobless claims comes a day ahead of the U.S. Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls data due Friday 8:30 AM ET (13:30 GMT).

Top S&P 500 Gainers and Losers Today:

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA), CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL) and Allergan (NYSE:AGN) were among the top S&P 500 gainers for the session.

Kroger (NYSE:KR), Mosaic (NYSE:MOS) and Wynn Resorts (NASDAQ:WYNN) were among the worst S&P 500 performers of the session.

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