Wall Street slid from record highs as investors paused before the European Central Bank is expected to announce additional stimulus measures on Thursday and the release of the latest US jobs data on Friday.
Meanwhile, shares of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts sank, last down 14.5 percent, after the company downgraded its full-year earnings forecast.
“Severe winter weather adversely affected both on-premises and wholesale sales throughout our company store base in the southeast (US), and contributed to a 1.5 percent decline in same store sales,” Executive Chairman James Morgan said in a statement.
In the final hour of trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.12 percent, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined 0.10 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite Index gave up 0.15 percent.
The Dow retreated as declines in shares of Verizon, down 1.3 percent, and those of Nike, down 1.2 percent, outweighed gains in shares of Intel, up 1.1 percent, and those of Exxon, up 0.7 percent.
A government report due Friday is expected to show that US employers added more than 200,000 jobs in May, while the unemployment rate rose to 6.4 percent, from 6.3 percent in April.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the day with a 0.5 percent slide from the previous close. Both Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 dropped 0.3 percent, while the UK’s FTSE 100 declined 0.4 percent.
The latest euro-zone inflation data underpinned expectations that the European Central Bank’s policy makers will act on Thursday to ease monetary policy.
Euro-zone inflation fell to 0.5 percent in May, down from 0.7 percent in April, according to the European Union’s statistics office, Eurostat.
"The ECB hardly needs any more reason to deliver a major package of stimulative measures at its June policy meeting on Thursday to counter the risk of prolonged very low inflation turning into deflation," Howard Archer, chief European economist at consultancy IHS Global Insight, told Reuters.
Separately, the euro-zone unemployment rate slipped to 11.7 percent in April, down from 11.8 percent in March, according to Eurostat.
Of 50 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, 44 expect the ECB to become the first major central bank to take interest rates into negative territory by cutting its deposit rate, while all but two of 60 respondents said the benchmark rate would also be lowered.
Meanwhile, US Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City President Esther George said the Fed should first allow its balance sheet to lighten after it has ended its monthly bond-buying program, before it starts lifting its benchmark interest rate.
“Allowing the balance sheet to decline due to ‘passive runoff,’ which stops reinvesting the maturing securities, prior to the first rate hike is appropriate,” George said in a speech in Breckenridge, Colorado. “As the outlook improves, this modest step would begin the normalisation process.”
George is optimistic about the recovery in the world’s largest economy.
“I anticipate the economy will continue to grow and unemployment to fall in the coming year. Although growth this year will likely be similar to last, the factors driving it will be different and point to surer footing,” George said.
Even so, “several issues still remain as the level of longer-term unemployment remains elevated, housing’s share of overall economic activity remains low, and businesses still seem tentative in terms of capital spending.”
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