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Dow falls 550 points as markets record first losing quarter since 2020

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 550 points on Thursday as all three major indexes closed negative for a quarter for the first time since the first quarter of 2020. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/ddfb0a7821b11bf8a16cd3fe1786bbea/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 550 points on Thursday as all three major indexes closed negative for a quarter for the first time since the first quarter of 2020. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 31 (UPI) -- U.S. markets fell Thursday to close the first quarter of 2022, marking their worst quarter in two years.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 550.46 points, or 1.56%, the S&P 500 dropped 1.57% and the Nasdaq Composite declined 1.54% to end the day Thursday.

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The Dow and S&P 500 were down about 3% for the first quarter, while the Nasdaq fell more than 7%, representing the first negative quarter for each index since the first quarter of 2020, which corresponded with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Oil prices fell, with the U.S. benchmark, West Texas Intermediate crude, falling more than 6% to about $100 per barrel after President Joe Biden unveiled his plan to release of an extra 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation's strategic petroleum reserve.

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Investors on Thursday also reacted to financial data, with the Commerce Department's Bureau of Economic Analysis reporting that inflation in the United States as measured by the Personal Consumption Expenditures index was up in February by 6.4% compared with February 2021, the greatest increase in 40 years.

Additionally, the Labor Department reported 202,000 new weekly jobless claims, exceeding expectations of 196,000, and an increase from the previous week, which saw a 50-year low.

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Semiconductor and tech hardware stocks fell as analysts expressed concern about the future of the PC market. AMD shares dropped 8.29%, Dell declined 7.6% and HP fell 6.54%.

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Shares of Walgreens Boots Alliance fell 5.67%, despite beating earnings expectations for its fiscal second quarter.

Despite the poor quarterly numbers, markets rebounded from volatile trading to start March brought on by the war in Ukraine, with the S&P and Nasdaq each on pace to close up about 5%, while the Dow is up 4%.

LPL Financial chief market strategist Ryan Detrick also said in a note that "stocks really appear to love April" noting that the month has closed with gains every year since 2006 except for 2012.

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"Not only is it the best month on average since 1950, but it has also been higher an incredible 15 of the past 16 years, as well," Detrick said.

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