US equities declined on Thursday amid dismal corporate earnings reports and as European leaders cautioned the euro’s advance could hamper the region’s recovery.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 42 points, or 0.3%, at 13,944. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell three points, or 0.18%, at 1,509. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down three points, or 0.11%, at 3,165.
Shares declined after the euro currency fell against the safe-haven dollar and yen, spurring a retreat from risky assets such as stocks. Euro declined after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the exchange rate was important to growth and price stability, triggering speculation that the bank is concerned about the euro's advance and its effect on the region's economy.
Economic data released yesterday was mixed. Initial jobless claims fell last week, signalling the economy continues to recover slowly.
A separate report said fourth-quarter productivity registered its biggest decline in nearly two years, while unit labour costs jumped 4.5%, more than economists expected.
Materials, energy and financials shares were the weakest performers. Housing stocks also declined.
Akamai Technologies Inc lost 15.2% after the internet content delivery company forecast current-quarter revenue below analysts' expectations. Sprint Nextel Corp. fell 0.5% as the third-largest US wireless carrier reported a drop in monthly contract subscribers.
Apple closed up 3% which helped the Nasdaq limit the losses. Fund manager David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital said it has sued the technology giant and said the company needs to do more to unlock value for shareholders.
Retail sector gained after leading US retailers reported strong January sales. Macy's Inc rose 2% after reporting January same store sales rose 11.7%. But Ann Inc plunged 8% after forecasting fourth-quarter sales below analysts' expectations.
Elsewhere, News Corp. slipped 2.3% after cutting its profit outlook because of declining ratings for shows such as “American Idol” and “X Factor.”
In Asia, shares rose on Friday in the afternoon trade after China's trade data for January beat forecasts to underscore a recovery trend.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.2%. Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 1.4% as investors took profits from the index's surge to its highest level since October 2008 on Wednesday. Australia’s ASX All Ordinaries Index rose 0.64% while South Korea’s Kospi Index gained 0.91%.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index was trading up 0.34%, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index added 0.1%.