US stocks closed lower as investors digested the sharp gains made in the previous session. The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Thursday lost 97.84 points, or 0.37 %, to 26,017.81, Xinhua news agency reported. The S&P 500 decreased 4.53 points, or 0.16%, to 2,798.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 2.23 points, or 0.03 %, to 7,296.05. Investors continue to look at latest earnings reports. Morgan Stanley posted fourth-quarter earnings and revenue on Thursday that beat analyst expectations. Excluding a charge related to the tax bill, the company reported earnings per diluted share of $0.84, higher than market expectations of $0.77.
Earnings season is off to a strong start thus far. According to financial research company FactSet, of the S&P 500 companies that had reported as of Friday, 69 percent have surpassed earnings-per-share estimates while 85 percent have beaten expectations on the top line. On the economic front, in the week ending January 13, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 220,000, a decrease of 41,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 261,000, said the labour department on Thursday.
This is the lowest level for initial claims since February 24, 1973, when it was 218,000, the department said. The four-week moving average was 244,500, a decrease of 6,250 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 250,750. On Wednesday, major indices posted record closes on strong earnings reports. The Dow closed above 26,000 for the first time, while the S&P 500 finished above 2,800 for the first time.