Stocks sank into the red Thursday as disappointing holiday sales tanked retail names.
The S&P 500 was down 0.3%, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.4%, and the Nasdaq fell 0.1%.
Macy's (M) - Get Report plummeted 14% after detailing plans to close 68 stores, resulting in 3,900 job layoffs. The retailer also said the store closures would reduce fiscal 2017 sales by $575 million. CEO Terry Lundgren said the company continues to suffer from "declining traffic" in the stores where it sees the majority of its business.
Kohl's (KSS) - Get Report slumped 19% after reducing its full-year outlook following a weaker holiday season than expected. The retailer anticipates adjusted profit for the fiscal year ending Jan. 30 of $3.60 to $3.65 a share, down from its previous forecast of $3.80 to $4. Comparable-store sales fell 2.1% in November and December with the holiday sales period being described as "volatile."
Barnes & Noble (BKS) - Get Report fell 3.5% after reporting a decline in comparable-store sales over the holiday season. Comparable-store sales fell 9.1% over the nine weeks leading up to December 31. CEO Len Riggio said the company was "not pleased with our results." Full-year forecasts were also reduced. The books retailer anticipated fiscal 2017 comparable-store sales to drop by 6%, double previous guidance.
Retail stocks were among the worst performers on Thursday. Target (TGT) - Get Report , Dollar General (DG) - Get Report , J.C. Penney (JCP) - Get Report and Nordstrom (JWN) - Get Report were all lower.
Crude oil gave back the morning's gains after a large drawdown on U.S. crude inventories. Crude inventories fell by 7.1 million barrels over the past week, according to the Energy Information Administration. However, gasoline and distillates stocks jumped. Gasoline inventories increased by 8.3 million barrels, while distillate inventories increased by 10.1 million barrels.
Prices have ebbed and flowed this week as an output cut agreement among Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other non-OPEC producers took effect.
West Texas Intermediate crude was flat at $53.27 a barrel on Thursday.
Energy stocks were among the best performers. Major oilers including PetroChina (PTR) - Get Report , Total (TOT) - Get Report , China Petroleum (SNP) - Get Report and Petrobras (PBR) - Get Report moved higher.
Gold rallied and the U.S. dollar sank as investors continued to pick apart minutes from the Federal Reserve's December meeting that pondered the chance of a faster pace of hikes. Fed members noted that fiscal policy could warrant higher rates, though were cautious to emphasize data dependency and its dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability.
Gold for February delivery climbed more than 1% to $1,179.30 an ounce on Thursday morning, trading at a five-week high.
Services activity in the U.S. in December remained robust. The ISM Non-Manufacturing Survey held at 57.2 last month, remaining at a 12-month high set in November. Analysts anticipated the survey would weaken to 56.8.
The U.S. economy added 153,000 private sector jobs in December, according to the ADP National Employment Report. Economists anticipated 170,000 jobs to have been added after 216,000 were added in November.
The Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls report, the most closely watched piece of data of each month that will be released Friday, is expected to continue to showcase strength. In November, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.6% to 4.9% and the U.S. economy added 178,000 jobs.
The number of new claims for unemployment benefits fell by 28,000 to 235,000 in the past week, hitting the lowest level since 1973, according to the Labor Department. The less-volatile, four-week average fell 5,750 to 256,750.
The Dow again tried and failed to capture its 20,000 milestone on Wednesday. The blue-chip index came within 50 points of the milestone late in the day on Wednesday. The Dow rallied in the final two months of 2016 as investors placed bets that a Donald Trump administration would yield higher infrastructure spending.
Walgreens (WBA) - Get Report moved slightly higher after passing first-quarter earnings estimates. The pharmacy chain earned an adjusted $1.10 a share, a penny above forecasts. Sales declined 1.8% to $28.5 billion, falling short of $29.2 billion consensus. Walgreens also raised the lower end of its fiscal 2017 earnings range to $4.90 to $5.20 a share.