U.S. stocks on Thursday started the final day of the quarter slightly lower after the government reported a smaller-than-expected drop in weekly jobless claims. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell a fraction to 12,350. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index dipped a point to 1,327 while the Nasdaq Composite was off 2 points to 2,775. It's the end of the first quarter and what a quarter its' been with the Dow up nearly 7% and components Caterpillar up 20%, Chevron up 18%, and Pfizer up 18%. The commodities look to be ending the quarter on a high note. Fertilizer, Mosaic is lower following earnings yet the rest of the fertilizers are up. The copper and oil stocks look good. US Steel is down 3% after having their estimates cut. The rest of the market is quiet. The techs are lower for the most part. Intel is down 2% after having their estimates and price target cut. Google looks good. Lawson Software is modestly higher after reporting earnings. NetLogic is higher on an upgrade. The financials are trading lower as a sector. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs had their earnings numbers cut, yet both are modestly higher. Go figure. After the first hour the averages were modestly higher, but the rest of the day may be quiet since it's the end of the quarter. Most money managers are ready for the quarter to end. Through the morning the averages drifted lower. Only a handful of stocks look good. Electric vehicle company Tesla Motors is jumping 20% on an upgrade with a price target that is three times higher than the current stock price. Not bad. Carmax is down 6% after reporting a quarterly profit. Northrop Grumman is dropping 8% due to the fact their spinning off their nuclear warship division into a company called Huntington Ingalls. In the afternoon, the averages moved sideways waiting for the quarter to end. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 30 points at 12,319, rising 6.4% for the first three months marking its best first-quarter performance since 1999. The S&P 500 Index ended the daily session down 2 points at 1,325, rising 5.4% for the quarter. The Nasdaq Composite rose 4 points to 2,781, recording a 4.8% return for the first three months of the year.
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