* U.S. GDP, jobless claims data beat expectations
* Apple climbs after China Mobile says iPhone talks continue
* J.C. Penney falls on Morgan Stanley note
* Dow down 0.4 pct, S&P 500 off 0.4 pct, Nasdaq down 0.1 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, Dec 5 U.S. stocks fell on Thursday,
with the Dow and S&P 500 dropping for a fifth straight session
after a round of mixed economic data left traders guessing as to
when the Federal Reserve would begin to slow its stimulus
The Dow and the S&P 500 are in their worst stretch since
September. However, the moves have been slight, with the S&P 500
down about 1.2 percent over the period.
Gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 3.6
percent in the third quarter, the fastest pace since the first
quarter of 2012 and faster than the 3 percent rate that had been
expected. Another report showed that the number of Americans
filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell
last week in a hopeful sign for the labor market - a day ahead
of the November nonfarm payrolls report.
Traders have been trying to second-guess how the Fed views
strong data and whether the numbers are strong enough for the
central bank to slow its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying
program, which it said it would do when certain economic metrics
meet its targets.
"The growing perception that the Fed will taper sooner
rather than later may create some anxious moments in the market,
as well as some anxiety for investors," said Clark Yingst, chief
market analyst at Joseph Gunnar & Co in New York. "However, we
think this is bullish for stocks and that the decline is a
Expectations that the Fed might start tapering this month
were dampened after Dennis Lockhart, the president of the
Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, said the GDP data "doesn't make
a trend and ... doesn't drive me to the conclusion that we've
had a breakout in terms of growth."
The Dow Jones industrial average slipped 68.26
points, or 0.43 percent, to end at 15,821.51. The Standard &
Poor's 500 Index fell 7.78 points, or 0.43 percent, to
finish at 1,785.04. The Nasdaq Composite Index dropped
4.84 points, or 0.12 percent, to close at 4,033.17.
The Dow and the S&P 500 are on track to post their first
negative week in nine. Wall Street's recent rally, which took
the Dow and the S&P 500 to all-time highs, came mostly on
expectations that the Fed would hold steady with its stimulus.
The three major U.S. stock indexes have each climbed more than
20 percent this year.
Apple rose 0.5 percent to $567.90 after China
Mobile Ltd, the country's largest mobile operator,
said it was still negotiating to offer iPhones on its network. A
media report had earlier said that the long-awaited agreement
had been reached. Earlier, Apple hit a 52-week high just above
But Microsoft fell 2.4 percent to $38 in heavy
volume. It was the biggest points decliner by far in the Nasdaq
100 and outweighed Apple's boost.
J.C. Penney Co Inc shares tumbled 8.4 percent to
$8.85 after Morgan Stanley reiterated its "underweight" rating
on the stock and said November's 10 percent sales growth was not
enough to change the company's outlook.
Other major U.S. retailers posted disappointing sales for
November as cautious shoppers pinched their pennies at the start
of the holiday season.
Costco shares fell 1.6 percent to $120.95 after the
warehouse club chain said sales at stores open at least a year
rose 2 percent, below the 3.3 percent increase that analysts
But the stock of Dollar General Corp jumped 6.1
percent to $59.81 and ranked as the S&P 500's best performer
after the discount retailer posted third-quarter earnings and
said same-store sales rose 4.4 percent in the same period.
About 64 percent of the stocks traded on the New York Stock
Exchange closed lower for the day, while 52 percent of
Nasdaq-listed shares ended in negative territory.
About 5.1 billion shares traded on all U.S. platforms,
according to BATS exchange data.