Wall Street edged lower on Thursday as Wal-Mart shares dragged on major stock indexes after a lackluster earnings report and investors locked in gains after a three-day rally.
Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by 0.5 percent declines for financials and energy, which had helped drive the recent rally.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) fell 2 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.
While the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were lower, the Dow edged higher, helped by IBM (IBM.N), which rose 5.3 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 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. The benchmark index remains down 6 percent so far this year amid investor jitters over the battered price of oil and a slowing Chinese economy.
"What did the best the last three days, meaning financials, energy and biotech, are pulling back the most today," said Aaron Jett, vice president of global equity research at Bel Air Investment Advisors in Los Angeles. "So that certainly makes sense, and it just looks like profit-taking today."
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was up 9.49 points, or 0.06 percent, to 16,463.32, the S&P 500 .SPX had lost 2.13 points, or 0.11 percent, to 1,924.69 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC had dropped 21.35 points, or 0.47 percent, to 4,512.71.
Economic data provided some solace about U.S. growth. Data showed the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, pointing to labor market strength.
Corporate earnings were mixed. Nvidia (NVDA.O) was up 9.5 percent at $30.29 after the chipmaker's revenue beat expectations.
But Dish Network (DISH.O) fell 7.5 percent to $42.63 after it reported lower net income in 2015 amid a drop in pay-TV subscriptions.
Perrigo (PRGO.N) slid 10.4 percent to $130 after the drugmaker's adjusted profit missed estimates.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by 1,637 to 1,341, for a 1.22-to-1 ratio on the upside; on the Nasdaq, 1,561 issues fell and 1,173 advanced for a 1.33-to-1 ratio favoring decliners.
The S&P 500 posted 9 new 52-week highs and 2 new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 16 new highs and 39 new lows.
(Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York; additional reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar and Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza and Meredith Mazzilli)
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