Disappointing quarterly results from Macy's, Kohl's and other big department store chains put investors in a selling mood, sending US stocks lower.
Stocks in the consumer discretionary sector, which includes many retailers, slumped the most. Macy's plunged 14%. Kohl's, Dillard's and Nordstrom also fell sharply.
Banks and real estate companies were also big decliners. Consumer goods, health care and utilities stocks eked out small gains. Three stocks fell for every two that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Oil prices rose.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 5.19 points, or 0.2%, to 2,394.44. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 23.69 points, or 0.1%, to 20,919.42. The Nasdaq composite declined 13.18 points, or 0.2%, to 6,115.96, a day after closing at another all-time high.
Small company stocks fell more than the rest of the market. The Russell 200 index dropped 9.39 points, or 0.7%, to 1,390.20.
Only the Nasdaq is on track to end the week with a gain.
The disappointing earnings from retailers set the major stock indexes on a downward trajectory early on Thursday.
Macy's tumbled 17% after its results fell short of Wall Street's forecasts. The stock was the biggest decliner in the S&P 500, sliding 4.99 dollars to 24.35 dollars.
Dillard's and Kohl's reported revenue that was below what analysts were expecting. Dillard's slumped 10.13 dollars, or 17.5%, to 47.77 dollars. Kohl's fell 3.16 dollars, or 7.8%, to 37.16 dollars.
Shares in Nordstrom also declined, sliding 3.80 dollars, or 7.6%, to 46.21 dollars. The department store chain reported its results after the close of regular trading.
J C Penney is due to report quarterly results on Friday. Wal-Mart Stores, Target, Home Depot and other big retailers do so next week.
Despite the sluggish results from some department store chains, corporate results for the first three months of the year have been mostly positive. With about 89% of companies in the S&P 500 index having reported results so far, 51% have turned in better-than-expected earnings and revenue, according to CFRA Research. Technology, financials and materials companies have posted the biggest earnings growth.
The parent company of Snapchat was also among the big movers. Snap plunged 21.5% a day after it reported a huge loss. The stock slid 4.93 dollars to 18.05 dollars.
In currency trading, the dollar fell to 113.84 yen from 114.33 yen on Wednesday. The euro strengthened to 1.0863 dollars from 1.0862 dollars.
Major stock indexes in Europe closed mostly lower. Germany's DAX fell 0.4%, while France's CAC 40 edged down 0.3%.
Britain's FTSE shed early gains to end flat. In Asia, indexes notched gains. Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 0.3%, while South Korea's Kospi jumped 1.2%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.4%.