U.S. stocks continued to lose ground on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 exhibiting a five-day losing streak, as investors were considering the possibility that the U.S. Federal Reserve may begin to wind down its monetary stimulus soon following a string of upbeat economic data.
The Dow dropped 68.26 points, or 0.43 percent, to 15,821.51. The S&P 500 dipped 7.78 points, or 0.43 percent, to 1,785.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index edged down 4.84 points, or 0.12 percent, to 4,033.16.
The U.S. economy increased at an annual rate of 3.6 percent in the third quarter before a 16-day partial government shutdown, up from an initial reading of 2.8 percent, said the U.S. Commerce Department Thursday.
The welcome acceleration was boosted by private inventories and residential fixed investment, the department added.
The number of Americans initially applying for jobless benefits also dropped a sizable 23,000 to 298,000 in the week ending Nov. 30, better than economists' estimates of a mild uptick, said the Labor Department.
Also adding to negative sentiment to the market, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said Thursday that it's time for the Fed to put tapering "on the table" at its next several policy meetings.
Most economists had expected that the Fed would not scale back its monetary stimulus until next year since the world's largest economy fared in fits and starts. However, the encouraging data released recently made it possible that the U.S. central bank could move to taper its stimulus at the upcoming meeting scheduled for Dec. 17-18.
Investors will also be paying close attention to a widely watched November nonfarm payroll report due out Friday which some analysts predicted may show the unemployment rate will drop to 7 percent.
Among other data, new orders for manufactured goods in October decreased 0.9 percent, the Commerce Department said in a separate report Thursday.
The tech-rich Nasdaq outperformed the other two indices, underpinned by Apple, whose shares advanced 0.51 percent to 567.90 U.S. dollars after China Mobile and Apple Inc. have reportedly signed a long-awaited deal for the Chinese mobile carrier to sell iPhones.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as a fear gauge of the market, increased 2.59 percent to end at 15.08.
In other markets, U.S. oil price rose Thursday amid the acceleration of the U.S. third-quarter economic growth.
Light, sweet crude for January delivery gained 18 cents to settle at 97.38 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange,while Brent crude for January delivery moved down 90 cents to close at 110.98 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange fell Thursday. The most active gold contract for February delivery shed 15.3 dollars to settle at 1,231.9 dollars per ounce.
The U.S. dollar retreated against most major currencies on Thursday despite the positive U.S. economic data and it fell versus the euro as the European Central Bank refrained from further monetary stimulus.
In late New York trading, the euro rose to 1.3675 dollars from 1.3589 dollars in the previous session, and the dollar bought 101. 69 Japanese yen, lower than 102.14 yen of the previous session.