Wall Street retreats on downbeat U.S. economic data

The U.S. stocks dipped on Friday, dragged down by worse-than-expected economic data, after main stock indices hit all-time highs on Thursday.

The market rose for a fourth straight day on Thursday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 Index setting new records, boosted by lower-than-expected U.S. weekly jobless claims.

However, the Commerce Department reported on Friday that U.S. retail sales declined 0.4 percent in March following a 1-percent gain in the previous month.

Wall Street lost more steam after a disappointing consumer confidence report. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment declined to 72.3 in April from 78.6 in March.

In addition, the U.S. Producer Price Index fell 0.6 percent in March, the biggest drop in 10 months, the Labor Department said. However, the so-called core PPI excluding volatile food and energy advanced 0.2 percent.

Also according to the Commerce Department, U.S. business inventories in February increased 0.1 percent. The lower-than- expected gain signaled that restocking of warehouses may contribute less to the ongoing recovery of the world's largest economy.

Two of the biggest U.S. banks posted first-quarter profits that topped market expectations before the opening bell to kick off a bank earnings season.

JP Morgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank by assets, reported a net income of 6.5 billion U.S. dollars for the first quarter, up 33 percent from the year-ago period. Wells Fargo, the largest U.S. home lender, also reported a record first-quarter net income of 5. 2 billion dollars, up 22 percent year on year.

In midday trading, the blue-chip Dow fell 32.41 points, or 0.22 percent, to 14,832.73 points. The S&P 500 Index ticked down 8.36 points, or 0.52 percent, to 1,585.01 points. The Nasdaq Composite Index lost 16.39 points, or 0.50 percent, to 3,283.77 points.

Philippines News agency