NEW YORK, May 8 (Xinhua) --U.S. stocks retreated Thursday from earlier gains with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq turning lower in a volatile session, as investors hesitated over whether to place new bets after major indices flirted with record highs.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 32.43 points, or 0.20 percent, to 16,550.97. The broader S&P 500 decreased 2.58 points, or 0.14 percent, to 1,875.63. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 16. 18 points, or 0.40 percent, to 4,051.50.
Responding to positive economic data from China and the United States, the blue-chip Dow at one time jumped as many as 104 points to a session high of 16,622.95 points, within a striking distance of its all-time intraday high of 16,631.63 points set on April 4, before erasing earlier gains.
China's exports went up 0.9 percent year on year in April and imports rose 0.8 percent, both rebounding from big slumps in the prior month, Chinese customs data showed on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the number of Americans who initially applied for jobless benefits last week dropped 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 319,000, the U.S. Labor Department said Thursday. The latest figure was better than expected.
The market also gained momentum somewhat from dovish testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen who said before the Senate Budget Committee that a high degree of accommodative policy would sustain as long as needed.
However, Wall Street lost steam in the afternoon trading session, as investors turned cautious amid the recent market volatility, reluctant to jump in and drive stocks higher.
On corporate earnings side, Cheetah Mobile Inc., a Chinese mobile internet company, made its trading debut on the New York Stock Exchange Thursday. The company's shares closed at 14.10 U.S. dollars per American depository share (ADS), slightly higher than its initial public offering price of 14.00 dollars per ADS.
Shares of Tesla Motors, Inc. slumped 11.30 percent to 178.59 dollars apiece after the electric car maker late Wednesday reported adjusted per-share earnings that topped expectations but its guidance disappointed some investors.
The CBOE Volatility Index, a gauge of fear in the market, edged up 0.22 percent to end at 13.43.
In other markets, the dollar was mixed against major currencies Thursday and it rose against the euro after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi indicated the central bank may loose monetary policy in June if needed.
In late New York trading, the euro dropped to 1.3853 dollars from 1.3916 dollars in the previous session, while the dollar bought 101.49 Japanese yen, lower than 101.78 yen of the previous session.
Oil prices dropped as traders took profit of the previous day's gains. Light, sweet crude for June delivery moved down 51 cents to settle at 100.26 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell for a third session in a row as weekly U.S. jobless claims dropped. The most active gold contract for June delivery fell 1.2 dollars, or 0.09 percent, to settle at 1,287.7 dollars per ounce.