US stocks fall to session lows on Ukraine worries

U.S. stocks turned decisively lower on Thursday as Wall Street echoed action in European markets while on alert for signs of escalation in the conflict in Ukraine.

“It’s the yo-yo action in Europe that we keep following, as they sold off, we sold off,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market strategist at the Lindsey Group.

Read More Europe like to make stocks whipsaw Thursday

European shares fell amid media reports that had NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urging Russia to “step back from the brink” by withdrawing troops and stopping its support of rebels in Eastern Ukraine.

Read More NATO chief in Kiev

“Putin is still the big wild card in all of this,” said Chris Gaffney, senior vice president at EverBank, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Many people are itching, waiting for a correction, since we’ve gone so long without one. But we would say it’s not justified by earnings expectations, as they continue to show improvement,” said Nick Raich, CEO at the Earnings Scout.

Wendy’s reported quarterly profit just shy of estimates and revenue that exceeded forecasts, with shares of the fast-food chain rising; Keurig Green Mountain reported quarterly profit the beat estimates and hiked its full-year outlook, with shares of the one-cup coffee brewers gaining.

The Labor Department’s tally of Americans filing for unemployment benefits last week declined by 14,000 to 289,000, and the four-week average fell to 293,500, the lowest since 2006.

The European Central Bank held interest rates unchanged, as expected, with the decision coming after the ECB reduced its deposit rate below zero in June.

At a news conference after the ECB move, ECB President Mario Draghi reaffirmed the ECB would consider unconventional moves, such as the buying of asset-backed securities, should its medium-term outlook for inflation change.

“The ECB basically had no choice but to sit back and wait for their June announcements to play themselves out. There was no progress on the ABS program; I was hoping to get more details, so if I was to point to one thing, it would be that,” Boockvar said of any market disappointment in the wake of Draghi’s words.

DJIA Dow Jones Industrial Average 16389.46
-53.88 -0.33%
S&P 500 S&P 500 Index 1913.13
-7.11 -0.37%
NASDAQ Nasdaq Composite Index 4345.55
-9.50 -0.22%

After a 61-point climb, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 65.53 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,377.81.

The S&P 500 dropped 8.12 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,912.12, with consumer staples and telecommunications leading sector losses and utilities and industrials the sole gainers among the S&P’s 10 main industry groups.

The Nasdaq shed 9.18 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,345.85.

For every seven stocks rising, eight fell on the New York Stock Exchange, where 260 million shares traded by 12:25 p.m. Eastern. Composite volume cleared 1.4 billion.

Getty Images A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

Getty Images
A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures reversed higher, climbing $5.20, or 0.4 percent, to $1,313.40 an ounce; crude-oil futures rose 20 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $97.12 a barrel.

The dollar gained against other currencies; the 10-year Treasury yield shed 4 basis points to 2.434 percent.

On Tuesday, stocks ended little changed as investors sorted through developments in Ukraine and considered two derailed deals.

Read More S&P 500 ends near two-month low

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