US stocks ended lower on Thursday as the last trading day of March marked the worst quarter since 2020.
The declines extended losses on Wall Street after indices snapped a four-day winning streak on Wednesday.
The S&P 500 fell 1.57%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 550 points or 1.56%. The Nasdaq Composite also recorded similar losses, ending the session at 1.54% down.
The performance extended the benchmarks’ losses year-to-date to 5.6% for the S&P 500 and -5.2% for the DJIA. Tech-heavy Nasdaq is down 10.2% YTD after heavy selling in the sector since late last year.
A look at historical data shows the past three months represent the worst quarterly performance the stock market in two years.
But while stocks closed March on a low, the S&P 500 remains close to its all-time high reached last year. Analysts have also pointed to April being a historically favourable month for stocks, suggesting fresh moves on the upside are likely.
It is said past performance is not an indicator of future performance, but if history rhymes, then this April could become the 16th year in 17 that stocks have edged higher.
Biden calls on US oil companies to invest in production
In a quarter where runaway inflation, war and a new Covid-19 wave impacted markets, Thursday’s negative returns came amid Russia’s threat to cut gas supply to Europe and US president Joe Biden announcing the release of 1 million barrels of oil from the US strategic petroleum reserves. The SPR relief will apply over the next six months.
Biden noted that the current situation with energy prices and the “pain at the pump for American families” was a result of Putin’s actions. He said the best cause of action towards lowering prices was for supply to increase.
“US oil companies made nearly $80 billion in profits last year. This isn’t the time to sit on record profits. This is the time to step up for the good of your country. To invest in the immediate production we need to respond to Vladimir Putin,” Biden said.
Oil prices fell again on Thursday amid the uncertainty, with WTI crude shedding 6.6% to hit $100 per barrel before bouncing to +1.05% for $105.87 per barrel.
Elsewhere, gold declined 0.6% to $1,941.50 per ounce, while Bitcoin was down 2.6% at $45,730. The US 10-year Treasury was -2.7 bps to 2.345%.