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US stocks slide as weak Macy's results hit retailers

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[NEW YORK] Shares of retailers tumbled early Thursday on weak Macy's earnings as US stocks dropped and the Nasdaq retreated from a record.

Macy's slumped 11.1 per cent after reporting a 39 per cent drop in first-quarter earnings to US$70 million. Analysts at GlobalData Retail called the results, which included sharply lower comparable sales, "decidedly gloomy." The disappointing Macy's figures sharpened concerns about retailers, pushing Nordstrom, Best Buy and Gap into negative territory.

Snapchat parent Snap, meanwhile plummeted 20.1 per cent after posting a loss of US$2.2 billion in its first quarterly results since its share offering earlier this year.

Analysts said sentiment was further marred by anxiety over President Donald Trump's firing of FBI chief James Comey, which has sparked a political uproar that could delay or derail Mr Trump's agenda, including tax cuts.

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About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 20,892.40, down 0.2 per cent.

The broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.4 per cent to 2,390.71, as did the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index which dropped to 6,106.82, pulling back from a record.

Whole Foods Market surged 5.2 per cent after a spate of announcements that included a boost to its dividend, additional cost cuts, the naming of a new board chair and a new chief financial officer. The upscale grocer has faced pressure from activists at Jana Partners.

Merck rose 1.3 per cent after announcing it won approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its Keytruda drug for lung cancer.