Wall Street ends mostly lower; Nasdaq down for 3rd session

US stocks mostly fell on Thursday with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closing lower, led by losses in the energy and utility sectors. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP
US stocks mostly fell on Thursday with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closing lower, led by losses in the energy and utility sectors. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - US stocks mostly fell on Thursday with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closing lower, led by losses in the energy and utility sectors.

The Nasdaq ended lower for a third straight session, its longest losing streak since early April.

A turnaround in beaten-down internet stocks had boosted the Nasdaq earlier, while a drop in initial jobless claims suggested the labor market was improving and had helped lift the broader market.

But a late selloff in utilities and energy, among the best performing sectors recently, dragged the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq to session lows.

"I think it was technical once again. We got right to resistance, we challenged it, but had no momentum to get through," said Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor division at O'Neil Securities in New York.

The S&P utility sector index fell 1.2 per cent and the energy sector index was off 1.3 per cent.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 32.43 points or 0.2 per cent, to close at 16,550.97, the S&P 500 lost 2.58 points or 0.14 per cent, to 1,875.63 and the Nasdaq Composite

dropped 16.177 points or 0.4 per cent, to 4,051.496.

But the Global X Social Media Index ETF, which consist of internet stocks like Groupon, advanced 0.8 per cent, after falling more than 14 per cent since April 22. Twitter Inc jumped 4.2 per cent to US$31.96 (S$39.85) and Groupon Inc gained 6.1 per cent to $5.65 on Thursday.

Priceline Group fell 2.1 per cent to $1,108.00. The travel website operator reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit but forecast second-quarter profit below estimates.

Tesla Motors shares fell 11.3 per cent to $178.59, a day after the company's outlook also disappointed some investors.

Of 445 companies in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings through Wednesday morning, 68.2 per cent beat expectations, above the 63 per cent average since 1994 and the 66 per cent beat rate for the past four quarters, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Profits are expected to rise 5.3 per cent this quarter, down from the 6.5 per cent estimated at the start of the year, but above the low of 0.6 per cent in mid-April.

About 6.7 billion shares changed hands on US exchanges, above the 6.1 billion average over the past five days, according to data from BATS Global Markets.

US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, in testimony to a Senate panel, said no decision had yet been made on the central bank's portfolio of assets, which has swollen to $4.5 trillion from about $800 billion in 2007. If the Fed ultimately shrinks it to a pre-crisis size, the process could take the better part of a decade, Yellen said.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 26,000 to a seasonally adjusted 319,000 for the week ended May 3, snapping three weeks of declines.