U.S. stocks traded more than 1 percent lower Thursday, pressured by declines in global markets, as investors awaited a post-close speech from Fed Chair Janet Yellen.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 200 points. Caterpillar (CAT) was the greatest weight on the index, declining more than 7 percent on news the firm will cut up to 5,000 jobs and lowered guidance .
The Nasdaq composite fell more than one percent, joining the other major averages in negative territory for 2015.
All three major averages are now more than 10 percent away from their 52-week highs, back in correction territory. The indexes are on track for a weekly loss of nearly 2 percent or more.
“I don’t think there’s going to be much ahead of that,” said Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group. “We hared from Yellen for an hour last week after (the Fed) statement. I’m sure she’s going to be a focus but I’m not sure there’s much else she’s going to say.”
The Fed Chair speaks on inflation at a 5 p.m., ET, speech at the University of Massachusetts, where the audience will not be able to ask questions.
“It’s all about Yellen today,” said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital. She could “be more hawkish. … Maybe she might indicate that interest rates are going up this year.”
He’s watching to see if the S&P 500 can hold 1,900 and indicate a bottom.
“We’re approaching the last week of the month and generally speaking this is a sloppy time,” Cardillo said. “With the fear factor at a very high level it can only mean wider gyrations with light volume. From that perspective, it’s very difficult to see a market respond to some good news.”
Major European stock indices were more than 1.5 percent lower as investors continued to digest the Volkswagen emissions test scandal.