Investors hit the pause button on the stock market rally, with the Dow industrials just shy of record territory.
The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) lost less than a point. Just seconds before the closing bell it was in record territory, but couldn't hold there. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 38 and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) fell 2 points, after closing at all-time highs on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Investors continued to rotate out of some of the once-hot new tech stocks.
Amazon.com (AMZN) lost more than 2 percent. Analysts aren't very impressed with the Fire TV service announced Wednesday.
Facebook (FB) fell 5 percent, Netflix (NFLX) lost 2 percent and Priceline (PCLN) gave up 2 percent.
Yelp (YELP) dropped 6.5 percent, the second big drop in a row. %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%The Federal Trade Commission has received 2,000 complaints -- some of them reportedly alleging the company used extortion to win advertising. Yelp shares have lost a quarter of their value in the past month.
But Google (GOOG) bucked the downtrend. It edged higher as its 2-for-1 stock split took effect and a second class of shares began trading. Google now appears in the S&P 500 twice, giving the index 500 companies, but 501 stocks.
Some of the "old tech" stocks attracted buyers. Intel (INTC) rose 2 percent after a Piper Jaffray (PJC) upgrade to "overweight."
Biotechs had another rough day. A closely watched biotech ETF fell more than 3 percent. Biogen Idec (BIIB), Alexion Pharmaceuticals (ALXN), Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) and Celgene (CELG) all stumbled.
Elsewhere, Anadarko Petroleum (APC) jumped 14.5 percent after reaching a $5 billion settlement of an environment cleanup dispute.
Barnes & Noble (BKS) tumbled 13.5 percent. Liberty Media (LMCA) is slashing its stake from 16.7 percent to less than 2 percent. Liberty's CEO is also resigning his seat on the book retailer's board -- an apparent vote of no confidence.
E-Trade Financial (ETFC) fell 6.5 percent. A Sterne Agee analyst expressed concern about the discount broker's earnings.
Liquidity Services (LQDT) dropped sharply for a second straight day after withdrawing a bid for surplus Pentagon goods.
What to Watch Friday:
The Labor Department releases employment data for March at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time.
CarMax (KMX) reports quarter corporate earnings before financial markets open in New York.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.
7 Tax Tips for Investors
After Market: Stocks Take a Breather Ahead of Jobs Report
The 1099 forms you received from brokerages and other financial institutions might not be the last ones they send. It's common for them to issue corrected versions a little later. Consider getting your tax return ready to go, then waiting until close to April 15 before submitting it. That way, you can incorporate any last-minute changes and avoid having to file an amended return.
Pay attention to when you sell any holding, because the capital gains tax rates differ for long-term and short-term holdings. Short-term capital gains are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate, which could top 30 percent. Long-term gains (those held for more than a year) get preferential rates, which are zero percent for those in low-income brackets and 15 percent for most of us.
If you own underwater stocks, consider selling them for a loss. You can use those losses to offset gains from other sales, reducing your taxes owed. You can always buy back the asset later, if you still believe in it -- just be sure to wait for 31 days to pass, to observe the "wash sale rule."
If you're planning to sell one or more holdings that will give you a really big gain, submit an amended W-4 form to increase your withholding, or send the IRS an estimated tax payment. Underpaying your taxes significantly during the year can lead to a penalty at tax time. You may be protected by a "safe harbor" provision, though, which can save you from having to jump through those hoops.
If you're planning to buy shares of a mutual fund, determine when it will distribute its dividends. Many funds do so near the end of the year, and when that happens, the fund's share price will drop by the amount of the distribution -- which is taxable to shareholders. It's better to just wait until after that payout to buy in.
Mutual funds with high turnover ratios (reflecting a lot of buying and selling in a fund) have expenses for these trades. It's worth favoring funds with low turnover ratios, especially index funds and index-tracking ETFs, which simply hold onto the mix of securities in a given index, without a lot of trading activity. (Index funds generally outperform their higher-turnover counterparts, too.)
Boost the power of your Individual Retirement Accounts by making your annual contributions early in the year, giving the funds more time to grow. Over decades, it can make a significant difference.