NEW YORK, Feb. 21 (Xinhua) -- Wall Street extended losses broadly on Thursday amid generally disappointing data, continuously affected by minutes released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve, which indicated the U.S. central bank may slow or halt its bond-purchasing programs earlier.
The U.S. stocks opened lower, weighed on by a downbeat figure which signaled a steepening downturn in euro area. Financial information services Markit posted Thursday that flash eurozone manufacturing PMI slightly dropped to 47.8 in February, from a reading of 47.9 in January.
U.S. economic data released Thursday was also somewhat negative, adding to sell-offs for the stocks.
The number of Americans filing for initial unemployment claims in the last week increased to a seasonally adjusted level of 362, 000 from the previous week's revised figure of 342,000, the U.S. Labor Department said on Thursday.
The four-week moving average was 360,750, an increase of 8,000 from the previous week's revised average of 352,750.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported an unexpected decline in its monthly business outlook survey. The reading dropped to -12.5 in January from -5.8 in December.
The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index for the United States rose 0.2 percent in January, down from a 0.5 percent increase in December.
U.S. existing-home sales edged up in January, but homes for sale fell to the lowest level in more than one decade, according to the National Association of Realtors.
In late trading, the equity market rebounded, paring part of early losses.
Hewlett-Packard accelerated to climb after the personal computer maker posted a better-than-expectation quarterly profit before the closing bell. The shares of HP rallied 2.40 percent to 17.10 U.S. dollars.
Wal-Mart shares gained 1.52 percent to 70.26 dollars after the world's largest retailer reported fourth-quarter profit before the opening bell which beat analysts' estimates by a penny.
American International Group shares dipped 0.77 percent to 37. 28 dollars after the financial company reported a net loss of 4.0 billion dollars the fourth quarter.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 46.92 points, or 0.34 percent, to 13,880.62. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index gave up 9.53 points, or 0.63 percent, to 1,502.42. The Nasdaq Composite index fell 32.92 points, or 1.04 percent, to 3,131.49.