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[NEW YORK] Wall Street closed lower on Thursday, ending a three-day winning streak, as Wal-Mart shares dragged on the market after a lackluster earnings report and oil prices pulled back.
Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors finished negative, led by a 0.9 per cent decline in energy, which had helped drive the recent rally.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc fell 3 per cent after the world's largest retailer reported a lower quarterly profit and gave a tepid sales outlook. The stock was the biggest per centage loser in the Dow index.
After the market closed, department store operator Nordstrom Inc reported lower-than-expected quarterly profit and its shares sank 7 per cent.
Declines were limited by IBM, which rose 5 per cent after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to "overweight." As oil prices have slid, the stock market's performance has been tightly tied to the commodity. After rallying in recent days, oil prices came off session highs on Thursday and benchmark Brent settled lower after data showed a build in US crude inventories.
Thursday's stock market declines stalled momentum after the S&P 500 posted its first three-day rally of 2016, tallying a 5.3 per cent gain over the period. The benchmark index remains down 6.2 per cent so far this year amid investor jitters over the battered price of oil and a slowing Chinese economy.
"We've had a pretty significant bounce," said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. "Today is just a bit of profit-taking from those that have benefited from the significant move."
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 40.4 points, or 0.25 per cent, to 16,413.43, the S&P 500 lost 8.99 points, or 0.47 per cent, to 1,917.83 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 46.53 points, or 1.03 per cent, to 4,487.54. "What did the best the last three days ... are pulling back the most today," said Aaron Jett, vice president of global equity research at Bel Air Investment Advisors in Los Angeles, pointing to areas such as energy and biotech.
Economic data provided some solace for US prospects. Data showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to labor market strength.
Corporate earnings were mixed. Nvidia climbed 8.6 per cent to US$30.04 after the chipmaker's revenue beat expectations.
But Dish Network fell 6.3 per cent to US$43.17 after it reported lower net income in 2015 amid a drop in pay-TV subscriptions.
Perrigo slid 10.2 per cent to US$130.40 after the drugmaker's adjusted profit missed estimates.
About 8.1 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, below the 9.5 billion daily average for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,555 to 1,473, for a 1.06-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,677 issues fell and 1,099 advanced for a 1.53-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 9 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 17 new highs and 51 new lows.