Wall Street closed lower on Thursday, ending a three-day winning streak, as Wal-Mart shares dragged on the market after a lacklustre earnings report and oil prices pulled back.
Eight of the 10 major S&P sectors finished negative, led by a 0.9 percent decline in energy, which had helped drive the recent rally.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc fell 3 percent after the world's largest retailer reported a lower quarterly profit and gave a tepid sales outlook. The stock was the biggest percentage loser in the Dow index.
Declines were limited by IBM, which rose 5 percent 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 U.S. 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 percent gain over the period. The benchmark index remains down 6.2 percent 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 percent, to 16,413.43, the S&P 500 lost 8.99 points, or 0.47 percent, to 1,917.83 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 46.53 points, or 1.03 percent, 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 U.S. prospects. Data showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to labour market strength.
Corporate earnings were mixed. Nvidia climbed 8.6 percent to $30.04 after the chipmaker's revenue beat expectations.
But Dish Network fell 6.3 percent to $43.17 after it reported lower net income in 2015 amid a drop in pay-TV subscriptions.
Perrigo slid 10.2 percent to $130.40 after the drugmaker's adjusted profit missed estimates.
About 8.1 billion shares changed hands on U.S. 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 favouring 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.
(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar and Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Chris Reese)
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