Wednesday was a potentially very important day for U.S. stocks as a two for one special of bad news had stocks retreating on heavy volume. Some key technical levels were breached, and the Russell 2000 - which focuses on smaller capitalization stocks - gave back an entire month's worth of gains this week alone. Both the S&P 500 and NASDAQ fell 1.1% but there was a lot more damage under the surface as many individual names fell 2-4%+. There has been serious selling in transport stocks, financial stocks, and housing stocks - among the leaders of this market the past 4-5 months.
- The Institute for Supply Management said its services index fell to 54.4 last month from 56 in February, falling short of economists' forecasts for 55.8. It was the weakest reading since August. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector. The forward-looking new orders index slipped to 54.6 from 58.2, while employment dropped to its lowest level since November at 53.3 from 57.2.
- U.S. private employers added 158,000 jobs in March, falling short of economists' expectations for a gain of 200,000, according to payrolls processor ADP.
Commodities were also hit hard as markets went into "risk off" mode. Oil plunged 2.8% to $94.45, gold 1.4% to $1553.50, and silver 1.7% to $26.80.
British stocks fell 1.1%, German stocks 0.9%, and French stocks 1.3%.
The Nikkei 225 surged 3% on hopes that aggressive monetary stimulus measures will be announced at the Bank of Japan's policy meeting on Thursday. Central bank governor Haruhiko Kuroda is expected to substantially boost asset purchases,as well as buy longer-dated government bonds and commit to the open-ended purchase of assets. The Shanghai index dropped 0.1%.