* Weekly jobless claims fall to 249,000 vs. est. 257,000
* Wal-Mart top drag on S&P, Dow
* Pfizer falls after deal to sell infusion therapy business
* Indexes down: Dow 0.44 pct, S&P 0.27 pct, Nasdaq 0.35 pct
(Updates to open)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Oct 6 Wall Street was lower on Thursday as
healthcare stocks slipped, while strong economic data raised
the prospects of tighter monetary policy.
A report showed the number of Americans filing for
unemployment benefits fell last week to a near 43-year low. The
data comes ahead of a crucial monthly jobs report that will
influence the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates.
A growing number of Fed officials have argued for higher
rates as the labor market remains robust and inflation inches
towards the central bank's 2 percent target.
"Good economic news will be bad news for the markets," said
Phil Davis, managing partner at PSW Investments in PSW
Investments in Woodland Park, New Jersey.
Traders raised the odds of a rate hike to 64 percent for
December, up from 60 percent before the jobless claims report
was released, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.
At 9:38 a.m. ET (1338 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average
was down 80.26 points, or 0.44 percent, at 18,200.77.
The S&P 500 was down 5.73 points, or 0.27 percent, at
The Nasdaq Composite was down 18.74 points, or 0.35
percent, at 5,297.28.
The S&P healthcare sector fell 0.82 percent and
weighed the most on the benchmark index.
Johnson & Johnson shares fell 0.9 percent after the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning on the
company's insulin pumps.
Pfizer fell 1.06 percent after agreeing to sell its
infusion therapy business to ICU Medical Inc for $1
billion in cash and stock.
Eight of the 11 major S&P 500 sectors were lower, with real
estate falling the most by 1.04 percent.
Energy and financials were the bright spots.
Wal-Mart dropped 2.6 percent to $69.76 and was the
top drag on the S&P and the Dow after the world's largest
retailer forecast flat earnings for next year.
Twitter shares plunged 16.4 percent to $20.76 after
technology news website Recode said Disney and Alphabet
were not in the race for the company.
Alnylam dropped 47.8 percent after it abandoned
testing its experimental drug for heart failure as trial data
showed patients who took the treatment were more likely to die
than those who got a placebo.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by
1,805 to 820. On the Nasdaq, 1,518 issues fell and 665 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed seven new 52-week highs and five
new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 22 new highs and 10 new
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by