U.S. stocks closed lower as recent volatility in bonds and lack of resolution on Greece kept investors on edge ahead of Friday's employment report. (Tweet This)
"The bond market is front and center," said Adam Sarhan, CEO of Sarhan Capital. "Ahead of tomorrow's jobs number it's becoming abundantly clear that the economy is currently not strong and that's the rising concern for investors because that changes the narrative on the Fed."
Other analysts remained optimistic on the economy while noting general uncertainty among traders leading up to the key jobs report and a now-postponed Greece repayment deadline on Friday.
"I think tomorrow's employment report is going to be really good. That's going to raise concerns about the Federal Reserve rate hike," said Robert Pavlik, chief market strategist at Boston Private Wealth.
The decline in stocks accelerated in midday trade as the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 fell below their 50-day moving average.
In choppy trade, the Dow Jones industrial average fell nearly 200 points before closing down about 170 points. The blue chip index briefly swung into positive territory after falling more than 100 points in the open. The Nasdaq traded about 40 points lower after also attempting slight gains. All 10 sectors in the S&P declined.
"The market is doing today what it should have done yesterday. This is how we should behave when rates are higher," Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at The Lindsey Group, said of the selloff in equities.
U.S. stocks closed higher on Wednesday despite the bond selloff.
"The focus for the rest of today is really going to set up for tomorrow morning," said JJ Kinahan, chief strategist at TD Ameritrade. "With ADP yesterday and jobless claims today, the expectation on the jobs is they will increase."
Futures held lower on morning U.S. data, while Treasury yields dipped to session lows. Yields held near recent highs, with the U.S 10-year Treasury yield near 2.30 percent and the 2-year yield at 0.67 percent.
"It's really lately been all about the bond market. Fixed-income markets are really driving everything else right now," said Chris Gaffney, president of EverBank World Markets.
Earlier, the benchmark-10-year Treasury yield, which moves in the opposite direction of its price, briefly topped 2.40 percent, setting a new high for the year. It tracked the 10-year German Bund yield, which soared to just shy of 1 percent, extending a rise that began on Wednesday after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi played down the impact of bond market volatility.