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Selling pressure in technology and momentum stocks dragged benchmarks down on Monday and the S&P 500 closed in the red for the year. Separately, biopharmaceutical company Pfizer weighed heavily on the Dow. The day’s economic report on consumer credit hardly influenced investors and they are now focusing on first quarter earnings reports.

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) dropped 1% to close Monday’s trading session at 16,245.87. The Standard & Poor (S&P 500) declined 1.1% to finish at 1,845.04. The tech-laden Nasdaq Composite Index plunged 1.2% to 4,079.75. The fear-gauge CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) surged 11.5% to settle at 15.57. Total volume for the day was roughly 7.5 billion shares, higher than this month’s average of 6.6 billion. Advancing stocks were outnumbered by declining stocks on the NYSE. For 27% stocks that advanced, 70% declined.
The S&P fell below the key technical level of 1,850. The Dow and S&P 500 suffered their biggest three-day declines since Jan 27 this year. The Nasdaq has now dropped 4.6% over the last three sessions, its steepest three-day decline since November 2011.
Declines in momentum stocks had a negative impact on the benchmarks. Shares of momentum stocks such as electric car maker Tesla Motors, Inc. (NASDAQ:TSLA) and Internet radio service provider Pandora Media, Inc. (NYSE:P) plummeted 2.2% and 4.9%, respectively.
Internet stocks suffered heavy losses yesterday. Online retailer Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), online travel company TripAdvisor Inc. (NASDAQ:TRIP) and The Priceline Group Inc. (NASDAQ:PCLN) plunged 1.6%, 2.7% and 0.7%, respectively. Yahoo! Inc. (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) dropped 3.5% and 0.9%, respectively. Also, shares of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL), the largest component of both the Nasdaq Composite Index and S&P 500, plunged 1.6%. Overall, the Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) decreased 0.8%.

Top holdings from the Consumer Discretionary sector such as The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA), The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE:HD) and McDonald's Corp. (NYSE:MCD) dropped 1.6%, 2.2%, 2% and 0.9%, respectively. Overall, the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR (XLY) fell 1.9%.
Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) led the decline among the Dow components. Shares of Pfizer were down almost 3% after its breast-cancer drug palbociclib did well in clinical trials but the overall survival benefits was not yet revealed to be statistically significant. Overall, the Health Care Select Sector SPDR (XLV) dropped 1%.
On the economic front, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System reported that consumer credit increased by $16.5 billion in February from previous month’s figure of $13.8 billion. This increase in consumer credit was more than the consensus expectations of an increase by $14 billion. Non-revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 10% but the revolving credit declined at an annual rate of 3.5%. In February, consumer credit increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.5%. Consumer credit is considered a good indicator of the potential future spending levels.
However, economic data hardly restricted the day’s losses. Investors are now also focused on the earnings results. Earnings season is about to start with aluminum maker Alcoa Inc. (NYSE:AA) announcing results on Tuesday. Financial behemoths JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) and Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE:WFC), as well as retailer Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (NASDAQ:BBBY) are also scheduled to report this week.

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