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US: Wall Street drops at end of tough week for retailers

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[NEW YORK] US stocks fell on Friday as a decline in oil prices added to pressure from consumer companies after gloomy quarterly reports from Nordstrom and JC Penney overshadowed upbeat April retail sales data.

The decline in the department stores' shares marked the end of a week that highlighted the expanding clout of Amazon.com and the plight of brick-and mortar retailers struggling to keep up with the online seller.

Crude prices slipped as a stronger dollar weighed and investors cashed in on gains from a three-day rally.

That pushed the S&P energy index down 1.25 per cent.

US retail sales jumped 1.3 per cent last month, the largest gain since March 2015 and a bigger rise than economists expected, the US.

But consumer stocks, which have already been under pressure this week after a string of feeble earnings reports, fell again after Nordstrom and JC Penney reported lower-than-expected sales.

Nordstrom slumped 13.42 per cent and JC Penney Co Inc lost 2.82 per cent. Dillard's Inc, which gave a quarterly report that also disappointed Wall Street, fell 1.29 per cent.

Amazon lost 1.12 per cent but was 5 per cent higher for the week following steady gains since last Friday.

On Wednesday, Macy's poor quarterly report triggered a selloff in US retailers. It lost 17 per cent for the week after gaining 1 cent on Friday to $31.22.

First-quarter earnings reports are nearly all in and, on average, have not been quite as bad as expected across the S&P 500. But for June-quarter earnings, for every company that has given an upbeat preannouncement, 2.3 others have sounded warnings, according to Thomson Reuters.

That has left the S&P 500 trading at about 16.5 times expected earnings, according to Thomson Reuters. "It's hard to make a case that you're going to have stellar equity market performance. In the context of low interest rates, equity valuations look about right," said Mark Heppenstall, chief investment officer at Penn Mutual Asset Management in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 1.05 per cent to end at 17,535.32 and the S&P 500 lost 0.85 per cent to 2,046.61.

The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.41 per cent to 4,717.68.

All of the 10 major S&P sectors fell, led by a 1.29 per cent decline in financials. Consumer staples lost 1.23 per cent.

For the week, the Dow fell 1.2 per cent, the S&P dipped 0.5 per cent and the Nasdaq lost 0.4 per cent. It was the third week in a row of losses for the Dow and S&P 500.

The S&P 500 is about flat for 2016.

In a bright spot, Nvidia surged 15.21 per cent after the graphics chipmaker forecast better-than-expected revenue for the current quarter.

Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 2,000 to 980. On the Nasdaq, 1,627 issues fell and 1,145 advanced.

The S&P 500 index showed 15 new 52-week highs and eight new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 27 new highs and 76 new lows.

About 6.6 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, light compared to the daily average of about 7.2 billion shares for the past 20 trading days, according to Thomson Reuters data.

REUTERS