US stocks end mostly lower as bank shares face more pressure

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, on March 15, 2023.

NEW YORK - Shares of US lenders endured another walloping Wednesday on worries of more bank failures, although the Nasdaq eked out a gain following assurances from the Swiss central bank about Credit Suisse.

“I’m getting the sense it’s very emotional trading,” said Cresset Capital’s Jack Ablin. “So investors are on high alert for any news that could be disappointing or just anything particularly related to the banks.”

Major indices spent most of the day deep in the red, but the Nasdaq popped into positive territory at the end of the day after the Swiss National Bank said Credit Suisse had adequate capital, but that it was ready to make liquidity available to the institution if needed.

The statement came after the shares of the giant bank closed down nearly 25 per cent on the Swiss exchange.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended at 31,874.57, down 0.9 per cent, but nearly 450 points above its session low.

The broad-based S&P 500 declined 0.7 per cent to 3,891.93, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 0.1 per cent at 11,434.05.

Worries about Credit Suisse afflicted US banks of all sizes, with giants like JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup losing around 5 per cent and the embattled midsized lender First Republic Bank slumping 21.4 per cent.

Anxiety about the banks overshadowed US economic data that suggested a slowing economy that could ease pressure on the Federal Reserve next week.

US wholesale prices fell unexpectedly last month, while retail sales also contracted, driven by declines in sales at department and furniture stores.

The data has contributed to the investor view that the Fed could pause its interest rate increases next week.

Among other stocks, petroleum-linked shares fell sharply as US oil prices finished at their lowest level since December 2021 amid recession worries.

Chevron dropped 4.3 per cent and Halliburton and Transocean both slumped around 9 per cent. AFP

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