The three major U.S. indices were declining midday Thursday with the S&P 500 down 0.5%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average decreasing 0.4% and the Nasdaq dropping 0.3%.
Putting negative pressure on the markets today are comments by James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and a voting member on the Fed's policy-setting committee, as he suggested that the Fed's next rate hike may not be far off if the economy continues to recover as expected.
"You get another strong jobs report, it looks like labor markets are improving, you could probably make a case for moving in April," Bullard told Bloomberg in an interview Wednesday.
Falling crude prices are adding headwinds to the market on the last day of trading in a holiday-shortened week, with Brent crude contracts for May delivery down $0.64 to $39.83 per barrel and West Texas crude contracts dropping $1.03 to $38.76 per barrel.
A proxy battle for Yahoo!'s (YHOO) board of directors is causing the stock to experience some volatility in trading Thursday. Starboard Value said that it is nominating nine candidates for election to the company's board of directors. "The board and management have continually failed to live up to their own promises and shouldn't be trusted with the decision on whether Yahoo should remain an independent company," Starboard said in a press release today.
Shares of Finish Line (FINL) were also volatile Thursday, starting the day in positive territory before falling into the red following the release of the company's fourth-quarter earnings results. The sports apparel retailer reported a quarterly profit of $0.83 per share vs. the consensus $0.80 expectation.
Office Depot (ODP) shares were up 10% midday after a district judge accused the Federal Trade Commission of eliciting false testimony from an Amazon (AMZN) executive in an injunction hearing over Office Depot's proposed merger with Staples (SPLS). Staples is up more than 6% in trading today.
KB Home (KBH) also rose sharply after-hours Wednesday after the homebuilder reported adjusted earnings of $0.14 per share on revenue of $675.5 million. Net order value during the period rose 9%, more than double analysts' expected 3.9% growth estimate.