Investing.com – Stocks closed lower on Thursday, led by a slump in energy stocks as oil prices plunged to a one-month low, while a steep decline in DowDuPont also soured investor sentiment.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.46%, the S&P 500 lost 0.21%, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 0.16%. It was the second day in a row of declines for the indexes.
A sea of red washed over energy stocks, pressuring the broader market, as the selloff in oil prices continued in the wake of easing expectations of a supply shortage in the crude market.
In materials, chemicals company DowDuPont fell 7% as its profits tumbled 28% in the first quarter of the year on the back of dwindling chemical demand, especially in the United States. The slump also affected Dow Inc. (NYSE:DOW) -- a member of the Dow Jones Industrials -- the chemicals business spun off by DowDuPont on April 1. Its shares were down 6.2%.
Industrials also fell victim to weaker earnings from Fluor, while weakness in Caterpillar also contributed to the malaise in the sector.
Fluor (NYSE:FLR) slumped 24% after CEO David Seaton abruptly resigned on the back of disappointing earnings and a cut to full-year forecast.
"A key question is how the updated guidance will affect the earnings potential beyond 2019, and whether there are any changes to the profitability outlook for LNG Canada," UBS said. Last October, LNG Canada awarded Fluor and Japan's JGC Corp. a $14-billion contract to build a liquefied natural gas export facility in Kitimat, B.C., Canada.
Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), meanwhile, lined up a record dividend payout, but its share price stumbled 2.2%, suggesting shareholders were hoping for a heftier windfall.
Industrials and materials, both of which are sensitive to trade news, had a muted reaction to news that a U.S-China trade deal could be announced as soon as next week.
In other company news, Beyond Meat (NASDAQ:BYND) surged 163% on its public market debut. The maker of plant-based burgers priced its IPO at $25 per share.
On the economic front, factory goods orders increased 1.9%, beating economists' expectations for a 1% rise, but that proved of little consequence as investor focus is firmly on nonfarm payrolls data due Friday.
A strong payrolls number, however, could further dent expectations for market-friendly policy measures from the Federal Reserve. Fed Chairman Powell said on Wednesday the Fed was unlikely to cut or hike rates, arguing that the current path of policy was appropriate.
Top S&P 500 Gainers and Losers Today:
Teleflex (NYSE:TFX), Advanced Micro Devices (NASDAQ:AMD) and AmerisourceBergen (NYSE:ABC) were among the top S&P 500 gainers for the session.
Fluor (NYSE:FLR), Cognizant Technology (NASDAQ:CTSH) and Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII) were among the worst S&P 500 performers of the session.