NEW YORK, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks pulled back on Thursday, with the Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index snapping a seven-day gaining streak, as investors took a breather following the latest rally of the market.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 25.96 points, or 0.17 percent, to 15,300.64 points. The S&P 500 fell 5.71 points, or 0. 34 percent, to 1,683.42 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index shed 9. 04 points, or 0.24 percent, to 3,715.97 points.
The market had rallied in the past couple of weeks despite worries over an imminent U.S.-led attack against Syria, showing impressive resilience.
After the strong rebound, investors turned cautious ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy meeting to be held on Sept. 17 and 18, when the U.S. central bank is widely expected to announce its first tapering of monetary stimulus.
On the economic front, the number of Americans who initially applied for unemployment benefits declined sharply last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. In the week ending Sept. 7, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims decreased 31,000 to 292,000, the lowest level since 2006, it said.
However, "the drop reflects new computer systems in two states, which likely meant a significant number of claims were not processed," FTN Financial Chief Economist Christopher Low quoted the department as saying in a note on Thursday.
Among other data, prices for U.S. imports stood flat in August, after ticking up 0.1 percent in July, the department said in a separate report Thursday. In August, higher fuel prices were offset by falling nonfuel prices. U.S. export prices dropped 0.5 percent in the month following a 0.1 percent decrease the previous month.
Most major S&P 500 sectors ticked down, led by financials and materials.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as a fear gauge of the market, went up 3.40 percent to end at 14.29.
In corporate news, Dell stockholders have approved a proposal in which Michael Dell, Dell's founder and chairman, will acquire the personal computer maker in approximately 24.9 billion U.S. dollars in partnership with global technology investment firm Silver Lake Partners, based on a preliminary vote tally from a special meeting of stockholders, Dell announced Thursday. Dell's shares, however, were flat at 13.85 dollars.
In other markets, oil prices rose on Thursday ahead of talks between the United States and Russia on the Syria issue. Light, sweet crude for October delivery moved up 1.04 dollars to settle at 108.6 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Meanwhile, Brent crude for October delivery climbed 1.13 dollars to close at 112.63 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures for December delivery on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell 33.2 dollar to settle at 1,330.6 dollars per ounce on Thursday.
The U.S. dollar was little changed against major currencies Thursday. In late New York trading, the euro dropped to 1.3303 dollars from 1.3310 dollars of the previous session, and the British pound went down to 1.5812 dollars from 1.5825 dollars.