US stocks declined on Thursday, with the Nasdaq Composite Index suffering its biggest drop in two-and-a-half years, as a technology selloff resumed amid concern valuations may be too high at the start of earnings season.
The Dow Jones industrial average plummeted 267 points or 1.62%, to end at 16,170. The S&P 500 lost 39 points or 2.09%, to close at 1,833 - the biggest percentage loss since February 3. The Nasdaq dropped 130 points or 3.1% - its biggest daily percentage loss since 9 November 2011 - to 4,054.
Biotechnology suffered the most. Alexion Pharma (ALXN.O) was the S&P 500's biggest decliner, off 7.5%, followed by Gilead Sciences, down 7.3% and TripAdvisor, down 7%.
All stocks in the Nasdaq 100 index posted a loss, with the exception of CH Robinson Worldwide (CHRW.O), which ended up 1.6%.
The stock of bailed-out auto lender Ally Financial Inc (ALLY.N) fell 4.1% in its market debut. Two biotech companies - Cerulean Pharma Inc (CERU.O) and Adamas Pharmaceuticals Inc (ADMS.O) - also slid in their trading debuts. Cerulean fell 2.1%, while Adamas lost 12.4%.
Among Internet-related tech shares, which were among last year's biggest advancers, Facebook Inc (FB.O) fell 5.2%, while Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) sank 5.2%.
Among other big decliners, shares of Imperva Inc (IMPV.N) plunged 43.7% after the data center security company reported preliminary first-quarter results. Rival FireEye Inc (FEYE.O) lost 11.8%.
On the earnings front, Bed, Bath & Beyond (BBBY.O) shares slumped 6.2% after the home-goods retailer reported fourth-quarter sales that fell from a year ago.
The day's economic data was encouraging, however, with initial jobless claims dropping sharply last week to the lowest in almost seven years, suggesting job growth may be picking up after a harsh winter.
In Asia, shares fell from an almost three-month high on Friday in late morning trade amid a renewed selloff of technology shares and as a stronger yen dragged Japanese stocks down.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index declined 0.9% to 138 as of 9:53 a.m. in Hong Kong. Japan’s Topix index slid 1.1% as the yen traded at 102 per dollar after yesterday reaching its highest level in three weeks. The Nikkei 225 declined 2.2%, extending this week’s loss to 7.1%.
South Korea’s Kospi index retreated 0.8%, New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 0.5% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 0.8%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slid 0.1% and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.1%. Taiwan’s Taiex index retreated 0.5% and Singapore’s Straits Times Index declined 0.5%.