Wall Street was lower on Thursday, snapping a three-day rally, after a slump in Wal-Mart weighed on retail stocks and oil prices retreated.
Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by a 0.7 percent drop in the financial sector, which led the recent rally.
Crude oil prices, whose performance have often dictated stock movements, dropped from session highs after a report showed U.S. crude stocks rose last week.
Wal-Mart slumped 4 percent to $63.46 after the retailer reported a lower quarterly profit and gave a lackluster sales outlook. The stock was the biggest drag on the Dow.
Limiting the losses was IBM, which rose 5.4 percent to $132.91 after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to "overweight" saying the transformation to a cloud-focused business was not priced in.
The three-day rally, led by beaten-down sectors such as financials, materials and energy, boosted the benchmark S&P 500 5.3 percent. But such has been the rout since the start of the year that the index is still down nearly 6 percent in 2016.
"I think today, at least up until this point, is somewhat of a day of pause after a quite strong three-day rally due to mostly short covering," said Ryan Larson, head of U.S. equity trading at RBC Global Asset Management in Chicago.
At 12:37 p.m. ET (1737 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 8.18 points, or 0.05 percent, at 16,445.65.
The S&P 500 was down 2.9 points, or 0.15 percent, at 1,923.92 and the Nasdaq Composite index was down 18.22 points, or 0.4 percent, at 4,515.84.
Economic data provided some relief. A report showed U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly fell to 262,000 last week, pointing to labor market strength that could keep a Federal Reserve rate hikes on the table this year.
Apple was down 1.1 percent at $97 and was the biggest drag on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.
Nvidia was up 9.6 percent at $30.32 after the chipmaker's revenue beat expectations.
Perrigo slid 9.1 percent at $131.91 after the drugmaker's adjusted profit missed estimates.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,574 to 1,359. On the Nasdaq, 1,435 issues fell and 1,224 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed seven new 52-week highs and two new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 13 new highs and 31 lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)
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Published Date: Feb 19, 2016 12:15 am | Updated Date: Feb 19, 2016 12:15 am