U.S. equities opened lower on Thursday, giving back some of the strong gains made during the previous month.
January was the best month for the S&P 500 and Dow since March 2016, while the Nasdaq composite had its biggest one-month gain since October 2015. The S&P 500 also notched its best January performance since 1997.
Historically, strong January gains have led to solid gains in the equity market for the rest of the year, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior Index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices.
But stocks kicked off February on a sour note, as a decline DowDuPont pressured the Dow. The company reported better-than-expected quarterly results, but traded about 1 percent lower.
Stocks were also under pressure after the release of weaker-than-expected productivity numbers. The U.S. government said in a preliminary report that fourth-quarter productivity fell 0.1 percent. Economists polled by Reuters expected a gain of 1 percent.
“Not only did productivity for the fourth quarter miss consensus but it also fell below 0%,” said Jeremy Klein, chief market strategist at FBN Securities, in a note. “A weak print theoretically portends to higher inflation.” He also said that “an alarming drop” in German stocks put further downward pressure on the U.S. market.
The German Dax fell 1.4 percent on Thursday. UK and French stocks also fell, with the FTSE 100 declining 0.5 percent and the CAC 40 slipping 0.4 percent.
Thursday marks the busiest days of the U.S. earnings season, with about 70 companies reporting. Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Visa and Mattel are among the companies scheduled to report. UPS, AutoNation and Blackstone are among the companies that reported before the bell.
Wall Street also looked ahead to the release of the U.S. government’s monthly jobs report. Economists polled by Reuters expect the economy to have added 180,000 jobs.