US stocks continued their decline on Thursday, with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 dropping for a fifth straight session, after improving economic data raised hopes the Federal Reserve will curb its monthly bond purchases sooner than estimated.
The Dow Jones industrial average lost 68 points, or 0.43%, to end at 15,822. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell eight points, or 0.43%, to finish at 1,785. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped five points, or 0.12%, to close at 4,033.
Gross domestic product increased at an annualised rate of 3.6% in the third quarter, the fastest pace since the first quarter of 2012 and faster than the 3% rate that had been expected.
A separate report showed that the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly declined last week in a hopeful sign for the labour market.
Investors are trying to speculate about the Fed’s stance on the strong data and whether the numbers are strong enough for the central bank to slow its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying programme.
Apple (AAPL.O) rose 0.5% after China Mobile Ltd, the country's largest mobile operator, said it was still negotiating to offer iPhones on its network.
But Microsoft (MSFT.O) fell 2.4% in heavy volume after comments from a Ford Motor Co. director indicated chief executive Alan Mulally would not take over Microsoft’s top job. J.C. Penney Co Inc (JCP.N) shares tumbled 8.4% after Morgan Stanley reiterated its "underweight" rating on the stock.
Costco (COST.O) shares fell 1.6% after the warehouse club chain said sales at stores open at least a year rose 2%, below the 3.3% increase that analysts were expecting.
But the stock of Dollar General Corp (DG.N) jumped 6.1% and ranked as the S&P 500's best performer after the discount retailer posted third-quarter earnings.
Safeway Inc. slid 4.6% after Jana Partners LLC cut its stake in the supermarket chain.
Among financial stocks, Morgan Stanley lost 3% and JP Morgan Chase & Co. (JPM) dropped 2.4%.
In Asia, shares oscillated between gains and losses on Friday as improving US economic data fueled speculation the Fed may bring forward stimulus cuts.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.1% to 140 as of 11 a.m. in Tokyo. Japan’s Topix index and South Korea’s Kospi index both gained 0.1%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 0.3% and New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index slid 0.4%. Singapore’s Straits Times Index fell 0.5%.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 0.2%, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index declined 0.3%. Singapore’s Straits Times Index retreated 0.5% and Taiwan’s Taiex index rose advanced 0.2%.