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Benchmarks ended Thursday’s trading session on a mixed note. The S&P 500 and Dow ended in the green after the Central Bank of United Kingdom and the European Central Bank kept key lending rates unchanged. Investors also focused on a drop in initial claims. The slight gains helped S&P 500 to move up to another record high; the 50th instance in 12 months. The Nasdaq on the other hand was dragged down by biotechnology stocks.

For a look at the issues currently facing the markets, make sure to read today’s Ahead of Wall Street article
 
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI) gained 0.4% to close Thursday’s trading session at 16,421.89. The Standard & Poor (S&P 500) rose 0.2% to finish at 1,877.03. However, the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.1% to 4,352.13. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) moved up 2.3% to settle at 14.21. Total volume on the New York Stock Exchange was 3.3 billion shares. Declining stocks were outnumbered by advancing stocks on the NYSE. For 42% stocks that declined, 55% advanced.
 
US stocks began the day on an upbeat note following comments from the Bank of England and the European Central Bank. ECB kept the refinancing rate at a record low of 0.25% and the deposit rate at 0%. The Bank of England followed in ECB’s footsteps and kept the interest rate at a record low of 0.5%. The Central bank of United Kingdom also made no changes to its $627 billion quantitative-easing program.
 
However, the Nasdaq slipped on Thursday due to declines in Bio-tech stocks. The fall in Bio-tech stocks weighed heavily on the Health Care sector. The Health Care Select Sector SPDR (NYSE:XLV) deceased 0.6%. Key stocks from the sector such as Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), Gilead Sciences Inc. (NASDAQ:GILD), Amgen Inc. (NASDAQ:AMGN), Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (NYSE:BMY) and UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH) plunged 0.9%, 3.6%, 1.6%, 1.9% and 0.5%, respectively.
 
On the economic front, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that seasonally adjusted initial claims dropped 26,000 to 323,000 in the week ending March 1. The drop was more than the consensus expectations of initial claims declining to 335,000.
 
Separately, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that nonfarm business sector labor productivity rose 1.8% in the fourth quarter. The increase was less than the consensus expectation of 2.4%. This rise in fourth quarter productivity level was short of the 3.5% rise in the third quarter of 2013. The unit labor cost dropped 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2014.
 
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, new orders for manufactured goods dropped 0.7% to $483.0 billion in January. The drop was more than the consensus expectation of a decline of 0.5%. The 0.7% decline came after the same had dropped 2% in December.
 
Seven out of ten sectors of the S&P 500 ended in green. The Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) led the gains as the sector rose 0.7%. Top holdings from the sector such as Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB), Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE:OXY), EOG Resources, Inc. (NYSE:EOG) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) increased 0.4%, 0.8%, 0.2%, 0.3% and 0.1%, respectively.
 
The Industrial sector closely followed the Energy sector. The Industrial Select Sector SPDR (XLI) gained 0.6%. Key stocks from the sector such as General Electric Company (NYSE:GE), United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX), The Boeing Company (NYSE:BA), Union Pacific Corporation (NYSE:UNP) and 3M Company (NYSE:MMM) soared 1.1%, 0.3%, 0.1%, 0.8% and 0.2%, respectively.

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