US STOCKS-Wall St falls for a 4th day; energy shares, ECB weigh

Thu Oct 2, 2014 12:50pm EDT
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By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK Oct 2 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were down at midday on Thursday, putting the S&P 500 on track for a fourth session of losses, as energy shares dropped and the ECB failed to ease worries about the euro zone's recovery.

In a post-meeting news conference, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi gave no indication of an imminent stimulus program through the purchase of sovereign bonds.

Stocks extended Wednesday's sharp decline, with the S&P 500 falling below its 150-day moving average for the first time since November 2012, even after a positive reading on the labor market.

If the S&P 500 ends lower, it would mark its first four-day string of declines since December.

On Wednesday, indexes fell sharply after a patient was diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.

Investors were continuing to watch small-caps after the Russell 2000 index on Wednesday closed in correction territory. The Russell 2000 was down 0.4 percent on Thursday.

"It's been an ugly few days. It's been a confluence of negativity weighing on sentiment, and that's caused sellers to be more aggressive and buyers to be more cautious," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

"When you look at the magnitude of the decline in the Russell index, which started a couple of weeks ago ... that's having a ripple effect across portfolios in general and buyers are just very cautious. If you're a short seller, it's almost like a free-fire zone to continue shorting stocks."   Continued...