NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Wall Street fell on Thursday morning ahead of the minutes of the Federal Reserve's September meeting that investors are counting on to provide insight into the Fed's thinking on interest rates.
A six-day rally in global stocks was checked on Thursday as weak trade from Germany and factory data out of Japan fed worries about slowing growth, a key reason the Fed did not raise interest rates in September.
U.S. stocks are likely to be on the defensive through Thursday till the Fed minutes are released said John Brady, senior vice president at R.J. O'Brien & Associates in Chicago. "Stocks will continue to work off this oversold condition they had in late September. It will be the Fed minutes later in the day that will give us a sign one way or the other."
The minutes are due to be released at 2:00 p.m. ET (2 am Singapore time).
Data released on Thursday showed U.S. jobless claims fell more than expected to a near 42-year low last week, providing a more upbeat view of the health of the labor market after Friday's weak monthly jobs report.
At 9:33 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 43.86 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 16,868.43.
The S&P 500 was down 5.7 points, or 0.29 per cent, at 1,990.13 and the Nasdaq composite index was down 22.01 points, or 0.46 percent, at 4,769.15.
All 10 major S&P sectors were down, with the health sector's 0.7 percent fall leading the decliners.
Investors are also bracing for quarterly results that will reveal how badly U.S. companies are being hit by slowing global growth.
S&P 500 companies are now expected to report a 4.4 per cent fall in third-quarter profit, the biggest decline in six years, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Alcoa will report results after the close, considered the official start to the earnings season Crude oil prices were up nearly 2 percent, on track for their best weekly gain since August, helped by a weaker dollar. The dollar fell on nervousness ahead of the Fed's minutes.
EMC rose 3.7 percent to US$26.91 after Reuters reported that Dell was in talks to buy the data storage company.
Shake Shack fell 6.8 percent to US$45.19 after the burger chain filed for a secondary share offering.
BioMed Realty rose 8.4 percent to US$23.40 after Blackstone's $8-billion buyout offer.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by 1,696 to 816. On the Nasdaq, 1,380 issues fell and 708 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed three new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 10 new highs and seven new lows.