NEW YORK, Jan. 2 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks pulled back Thursday to start a New Year trading following a banner year of 2013, although the country's economic data was encouraging.
The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 135.31 points, or 0.82 percent, to 16,441.35. The S&P 500 plunged 16.38 points, or 0.89 percent, to 1,831.98. The Nasdaq Composite Index slipped 33.52 points, or 0.80 percent, to 4,143.07.
The market retreat came on the heels of a broad drop in European and Chinese equity markets Thursday, ushering in the New Year.
The market marked the first drop in the first trading day of a year since 2008.
The first week of 2014 should really set the tone for year, and really for the first month, said Mark Newton, chief technical analyst at Greywolf Execution Partners Inc., noting that it's almost 80 percent correlation how the year does historically.
"So that will be interesting to see, because it's very very overbought," he told Xinhua several days earlier, a little bit pessimistic on the stock market this year following a blockbuster year in 2013.
However, most traders still insisted on their bullish opinion on the stock market in 2014, as the fundamentals are considered to be strengthening. They also thought a pullback is healthy for stocks.
In the past year, the Dow was up 26.5 percent, its best yearly gain since 1995, while the broader S&P 500 surged 29.6 percent, its best year since 1997. The tech-heavy Nasdaq notched a 38.3- percent gain last year, the biggest since 2009.
On the economic data, the number of Americans who initially applied for jobless benefits in the week ending Dec. 28 dropped 2, 000 to 339,000 from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 341,000, said the Labor Department Thursday.
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in December for the seventh consecutive month, registering 57, the second highest reading for 2013, according to the Institute for Supply Management, a global supply management association.
Separately, business conditions in the U.S. manufacturing sector continued to improve in December, financial data firm Markit reported Thursday. U.S. construction spending in November also rose 1.0 percent from the preceding month, the Department of Commerce announced Thursday.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as a fear gauge of the market, added 3.72 percent to finish at 14.23.
In other markets, oil prices dropped Thursday. Light, sweet crude for February delivery lost 2.98 dollars to settle at 95.44 U. S. dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for February delivery decreased 3.02 dollars to close at 107.78 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange rebounded on Thursday, after the precious metal suffered the biggest annual losses in three decades. The most active gold contract for February delivery surged 22.9 dollars to settle at 1, 225.2 dollars per ounce.
The U.S. dollar continued to strengthen against major currencies on Thursday, as strong economic data from the United States raised the speculation that the Federal Reserve may step up an exit from its monetary stimulus.
In late New York trading, the euro dropped to 1.3654 dollars from 1.3754 dollars of the previous session, and the British pound decreased to 1.6423 dollars from 1.6560 dollars.