Dow gives up record as Walmart, econ data ding sentiment

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U.S. equity markets were lower Thursday as investors digested disappointing economic data and another round of earnings.

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 220 points, or 0.7%, while the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq Composite were weaker by 0.75% and 1.06%, respectively. The early selling comes after the Dow on Wednesday booked its third straight record-high close.

Initial jobless claims in the week ended Feb. 13 rose to 861,000 from an upwardly revised 848,000. Wall Street analysts surveyed by Refintiv were expecting the number of first-time filings to fall to 765,000.

Housing starts for January totaled a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 1.58 million, below the 1.658 million that was anticipated. Building permits, meanwhile, jumped to a better-than-expected 1.881 million.

In stocks, Dow component Walmart Inc. reported mixed quarterly results and said it still plans to raise pay for an additional 425,000 workers to above the $15 per hour. The company said sales at U.S. stores were up 8.6% year over year, excluding fuel.

Marriott International Inc. posted quarterly revenue that fell short of Wall Street estimates as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to weigh on bookings. Revenue per available room, a key industry metric, was down 64% year over year worldwide.

Roku Inc. and Dropbox Inc. are among the companies reporting after the closing bell.

Elsewhere, shares of GameStop Corp. and other heavily shorted stocks were in focus as lawmakers readied for a hearing over the trading turmoil that shook markets earlier this month. Robinhood CEO Vlad Tenev and Citadel founder and CEO Kenneth Griffin are among those set to testify.

In commodities, West Texas Intermediate crude oil was trading higher by 47 cents at $61.61 per barrel while gold climbed $6.30 to $1,779.10 an ounce.

European markets were trading lower with Germany’s DAX 30 down 0.09%, France’s CAC 40 weaker by 0.5% and Britain’s FTSE 100 losing 1.44%.

In Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite climbed 0.55% as traders returned to work for the first time in a week as Lunar New Year celebrations ended. Elsewhere in the region, Japan’s Nikkei 225 slipped 0.19% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.58%.

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