NEW YORK, May 15 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks continued to see sell-off Thursday, extending the previous day's losses as investors fled from risky stocks after the market's recent record rally.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 167.16 points, or 1.01 percent, to 16,446.81. The broader S&P 500 dipped 17.68 points, or 0.94 percent, to 1,870.85. The Nasdaq Composite Index plunged 31. 33 points, or 0.76 percent, to 4,069.29.
Wall Street opened lower and expanded losses later in the session, as investors grew restless after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. posted a disappointing earnings report before the opening bell. The world's largest retailer reported the first-quarter diluted earnings per share of 1.11 U.S. dollars, missing market expectations, as severe weather in the U.S. negatively impacted earnings of businesses. The Dow-listed company's shares lost 2.43 percent to 76.83 U.S. dollars.
On the previous trading session, U.S. stocks pulled back as investors took profits after major stock indices refreshed record highs repeatedly.
After the market record run, some traders believed that the U.S. stock market was a little bit overbought, thus shrugging off an array of numbers coming out positive in the day in general.
The number of Americans who initially applied for jobless benefits last week dropped to the lowest level since May 2007, the Labor Department reported Thursday. In the week ending May 10, the advance figure for the seasonally adjusted initial claims was 297, 000, a decrease of 24,000 from the previous week's revised level.
Meanwhile, the manufacturing activity in the New York region improved significantly in May, with the general business conditions index jumping 18 points to 19, its highest level in nearly four years, according to a survey released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York Thursday.
Moreover, following the release of a strong 0.6-percent uptick in wholesale prices for April, the Labor Department's data showed the U.S. consumer price index for all urban consumers advanced 0.3 percent in April on a seasonally adjusted basis, in line with analysts' expectations.
U.S. industrial production dropped 0.6 percent in April after having risen about 1 percent in both February and March, which added some pessimism into the market, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.
However, U.S. builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes in May dropped to 45 from a downwardly revised April reading of 46, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, also trailing analyst estimates.
Shortly after the closing bell, J. C. Penney reported a narrower-than-expected adjusted loss in the first quarter of 1.16 dollars per share on revenues of 2.80 billion dollars. The chain store also said it expected comparable store sales in the second quarter to increase mid-single digits. The company's shares surged in after-hours trading.
The CBOE Volatility Index, a gauge of fear in the market, soared 8.22 percent to end at 13.17.
In other markets, U.S. oil price fell Thursday as a government report showed that U.S. crude production reached the highest level in 28 years. Light, sweet crude for June delivery moved down 87 cents to settle at 101.5 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for June delivery gained 25 cents to close at 110.44 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange went down Thursday as positive economic data damped the precious metal's appeal as a safe haven, with the most active gold contract for June delivery falling 12.3 dollars, or 0.94 percent, to settle at 1,293.6 dollars per ounce.
The U.S. dollar weakened against most major currencies Thursday as U.S. bond yields broke down key levels. In late New York trading, the euro rose to 1.3716 dollars from 1.3708 dollars in the previous session. The dollar bought 101.53 Japanese yen, lower than 101.77 yen of the previous session.