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Wall Street tanks as biotechs banished

U.S. stocks plunged on Thursday as biotech and Internet stocks resumed their fall, with the NASDAQ recording its worst day since 2011. Gold jumped 1.2% to US$1,320.50 an ounce. The ASX SPI 200 is off 51 points to 5425.

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U.S. stocks plunged on Thursday after worse-than-expected Chinese trade data dragged on sentiment and as biotech and Internet stocks resumed their fall, with the Nasdaq recording its worst day since 2011.

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) fell more than 5% during the session.

The declines came even as jobless claims fell to a near seven-year low and the Fed made dovish comments at its latest meeting.

By the close the Dow Jones had plunged 267 points while the S&P 500 lost 39.1 points to 1833.1. The NASDAQ crashed 130 points to 4054.


Commodities

Gold for June delivery climbed 1.1% to finish at US$1,320.50 an ounce on Comex, while May oil surrendered 0.2% to finish at US$103.40 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


Jobless claims

U.S. jobless claims for the week that ended April 5 were 300,000, down from an upward revised 332,000 the previous week, and topping consensus estimates for 318,000.

Jobless claims are now at their lowest level since May 2007. Meanwhile, import prices rose 0.6% in March, compared to a 0.9% increase in February, while export prices rose 0.8%.

Later in the afternoon, the U.S. Treasury said its debt in March came in far below expectations, at $36.9 billion.


Wall Street round-up

In corporate activity, home retailer Bed, Bath & Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY) shares dropped more than 6.1% after reporting weaker-than-expected sales late yesterday and forecasting a weak outlook.

Rite Aid (NYSE:RAD) shares jumped over 8% Thursday after reporting fourth quarter adjusted profit that topped estimates.

Costco (NASDAQ:COST) shares turned lower after the company said its same store sales in March rose 5%.

Chevron (NYSE:CVX) shares dropped more than 2% after saying it expects first quarter earnings to come in lower than the previous quarter, due to high currency conversion costs and one time charges in its mining unit.

Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) gained 0.2% after analysts at Deutsche Bank initiated coverage of the stock with a buy rating and a price target of $40.

Auto loan giant Ally Financial (NYSE:ALLY) made its debut today on the New York Stock Exchange, with shares priced at the lower end of its expected range at $25 per share, valuing the lender at $12.04 billion. The U.S. Treasury bailed out Ally during the 2008 financial crisis.

Elsewhere, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) VP Greg Christie, who was in charge of software design, is reportedly leaving the company, with star designer Jony Ive to take over the company's software design group. Shares of the iPhone maker fell 1.3% Thursday.

eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) shares settled down 3.2% after the company and Carl Icahn agreed to end their proxy contest, with Icahn dropping his proposal to spin off the PayPal unit and eBay agreeing to nominate a candidate for the board put forth by Icahn.

Icahn has indicated, however, that he has not completely given up on the idea, and said he intends to continue to press his case through confidential discussions with the company.

 

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