US stocks decline as traders weigh new Powell comments and the continued Suez Canal blockage

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© Pool/Getty Images Jerome Powell stressed that the Fed would maintain support for the economy. Pool/Getty Images

  • US stocks declined on Thursday as traders weighed new comments from Powell and the continued blockage of the Suez Canal.
  • Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told NPR on Thursday that the central bank will gradually roll back its monthly bond purchases as the economy continues to improve.
  • Weekly jobless claims of 684,000 hit their lowest levels since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

US stocks fell on Thursday as traders weighed new comments from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell and the continued blockage of the Suez Canal.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told NPR on Thursday that the Fed will gradually roll back its monthly bond purchases as the economy continues to improve. The Fed currently purchases $120 billion in bonds per month.

“We will very gradually over time and with great transparency, when the economy has all but fully recovered, we will be pulling back the support that we provided during emergency times,” Powell said.

The blockage of the Suez Canal continues to disrupt global trade and supply chain issues, and it could take days to unground the Evergreen ship that became stuck due to high winds.

Here’s where US indexes stood at the 9:30 a.m. ET open on Thursday:

Weekly jobless claims of 684,000 beat economist expectations and represented the lowest levels on record since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year.

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Shares of ViacomCBS extended its two-day decline to nearly 30% after it launched a $3 billion equity offering to fund investments in its new streaming platform, Paramount+.

Rite Aid fell 20% after cutting its full-year forecast as the drugstore chain saw fewer customers buying its cough and cold medicine amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bitcoin fell more than 7% and traded just above $51,000 as analysts said the expiration of $5 billion in bitcoin options contracts may be causing volatility.

The SEC said it’s looking into Wall Street’s SPAC craze and is seeking voluntary information from market participants.

Oil prices were lower. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 3%, to $59.30 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international benchmark, dropped by 2.67%, to $62.69 per barrel.

Gold rose 0.1%, to $1,735.40 per ounce.

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