* Euro falls vs dollar, yen after ECB's Draghi comments
* January retail sales beat expectations, but worries remain
* Greenlight's Einhorn sues Apple, seeks bigger payout
* Indexes: Dow off 0.3 pct, S&P off 0.2 pct, Nasdaq off 0.1
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Feb 7 U.S. stocks declined on
Thursday, taking a step back from their recent advance, prompted
by comments by the ECB president on the euro and Europe's
The euro currency dropped against the safe-haven dollar and
yen, spurring a retreat from risky assets such as stocks, after
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the exchange
rate was important to growth and price stability. Investors took
that as a sign the bank is concerned about the euro's advance
and its effect on the region's economy.
Growth sectors were among the weakest performers on the S&P
500: the S&P 500 materials index was down 0.6 percent
while the S&P energy index was down 0.5 percent. Housing
stocks also declined, with a housing sector index off 1.4
Despite the day's decline and weakness earlier this week,
the stock market has been in an almost uninterrupted up trend
for most of the year, with the S&P 500 up 5.8 percent so far for
Many analysts say some weakness at this point is no
"Given the amount the market moved in January, having a
little bit of a pullback and some consolidation where the market
goes sideways for a little while, we think would be a healthy
sign," said Eric Marshall, director of research at Hodges
Capital Management in Dallas.
Top U.S. retailers reported strong January sales after
offering compelling merchandise that drew in shoppers facing a
hit to their take-home pay from higher payroll taxes.
But an index of retailers was down 0.3
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 42.47
points, or 0.30 percent, at 13,944.05. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 2.73 points, or 0.18 percent, at 1,509.39.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 3.34 points, or 0.11
percent, at 3,165.13.
Shares of Apple helped to limit losses on the
Nasdaq, the stock ending up 3 percent at $468.22. Fund manager
David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital said it has sued Apple Inc
and said the company needs to do more to unlock value
Though the earnings season is winding down, results continue
to boost growth estimates for the fourth quarter. According to
Thomson Reuters data through Thursday morning, of 317 companies
in the S&P 500 that have reported earnings, 69 percent have
exceeded analysts' expectations, above a 62 percent average
since 1994 and 65 percent over the past four quarters.
Fourth-quarter earnings for S&P 500 companies rose 5
percent, according to the data, above a 1.9 percent forecast at
the start of the earnings season.
Akamai Technologies Inc lost 15.2 percent to $35.26
as the worst percentage performer on the S&P 500 after the
Internet content delivery company forecast current-quarter
revenue below analysts' expectations.
Among retailers, Macy's Inc rose 2 percent to $40.27
after reporting January same store sales rose 11.7 percent.
But Ann Inc dropped 8 percent to $30.20 after
forecasting fourth-quarter sales below analysts' expectations.
Economic data was mixed. Initial jobless claims dipped last
week, with the four-week moving average falling to its lowest
level since March 2008, signaling the economy continues to
A separate report said fourth-quarter productivity
registered its biggest drop in nearly two years, while unit
labor costs jumped 4.5 percent, more than economists expected.
Roughly 6.6 billion shares traded on the New York Stock
Exchange, the Nasdaq and the NYSE MKT, compared with the 2012
average daily closing volume of about 6.45 billion.
Decliners outpaced advancers on the NYSE by nearly 4 to 3
and on the Nasdaq by about 5 to 3.