NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks finished lower on Thursday (May 21) following a choppy session as markets weighed heightening US-China tensions and another spike in jobless claims.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 101.78 points (0.41 per cent) to 24,474.12.
The broad-based S&P 500 dropped 23.10 points (0.78 per cent) to 2,948.51, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index tumbled 90.89 points (0.97 per cent) to 9,284.88.
The pullback extended the week's pattern of volatility after a big rally day on Monday was followed by a pullback Tuesday and then more gains on Wednesday.
"Every other day is another direction," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at National Securities.
Markets are trying to suss out whether states reopening their economies were seeing significant coronavirus outbreaks and also weighing announcements about pharmaceutical developments that could combat COVID-19.
"We're as glued to the coronavirus news as much as the economic news and that's going to cause a lot of volatility," Hogan said.
The Labor Department reported that another 2.43 million US workers applied for unemployment benefits last week, bringing the total since the coronavirus shutdowns began in mid-March to a massive 38.6 million.
Investors also increasingly view tensions between Washington and Beijing as a risk to stocks in the coming months, with US President Donald Trump loudly blaming China for the outbreak that has claimed more than 90,000 American lives.
Retailers were mixed following earnings announcements, with Best Buy sliding 4.4 per cent, TJX gaining 6.8 per cent and Macy's advancing 5.9 per cent.