Stock trading Thursday will likely hinge on oil prices and headlines from Europe, as traders await Friday's key report on jobs.
After Wednesday's blow-out private payrolls figures and a plunge in oil prices, U.S. stocks closed mixed. The Nasdaq composite eked out a gain of 3.6 points, while the Dow lost 69 points and the S&P 500 fell 5.4 points to close at 2,362.98 as energy stocks dragged. The Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLE) fell 2.5 percent Wednesday to below its 200-day moving average.
That's "not healthy," Scott Redler, chief strategic officer at T3 Trading, said in an email. "If it stays below the 200-day for multiple sessions it shows true weakness."
In a steep intraday drop, U.S. crude oil futures plunged 5.4 percent to their lowest close since Dec. 7 after weekly inventory data showed a bigger-than-expected build. The slide took oil prices past a technical support level of $51.22 a barrel to a settle of $50.28, and now all eyes are on the psychologically key $50 level.
"We won't have a newer input" on crude oil data Thursday, said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. "But what's startling about this is technically we've broken support."
"You've got a lot of movement in the energy [stocks]. They have a lot to give back," he said.