Stocks slid on Thursday as investors took profits after a recent rally and turned cautious a day before the government's crucial July jobs report.
The stock market's second day of declines came on the heels of a four-day run of gains that pushed U.S. indexes on Tuesday to close at their highest level since last fall.
Losses were broad-based, with the energy and telecommunication services sectors the top drags on the S&P 500. An S&P index of energy stocks <.GSPE> fell 0.7 percent, while an S&P index of telecom shares <.GSPL> lost 1.5 percent.
Cisco Systems Inc
Wall Street's attention is now on the government's all-important non-farm payrolls report, which will show the number of jobs lost in July. The data will be released before the bell on Friday.
(With) the job numbers tomorrow (and) the fact that we've had this tremendous run, you're getting some nervousness. Tomorrow morning, it'll either be exacerbated or relieved., said Jim Awad, managing director of Zephyr Management in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 23.50 points, or 0.54 percent, at 9,257.47. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 5.00 points, or 0.50 percent, at 997.72. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 15.39 points, or 0.78 percent, at 1,977.66.
A Reuters survey forecasts that the Labor Department report will show 320,000 workers lost their jobs in July, the least for any month since September last year.
After losing ground in morning trading, Cisco was up 1 percent at $22.40.
Cisco was pretty downbeat last night. The whole rally has been predicated on a third-quarter recovery in the economy and Cisco put some clouds in that horizon, Awad said.
Shares of low-cost wireless carrier MetroPCS
Despite the latest pullback, the broad S&P 500 is up 47.5 percent from its 12-year closing low in early March, encouraged by a string of economic data suggesting a recovery, and an earnings season with most S&P 500 companies beating expectations.
Before the opening bell, numbers from the Labor Department showed initial jobless claims fell 38,000 to a seasonally adjusted 550,000 for the week ended August 1, down substantially from the 588,000 the previous week. The latest weekly claims were well below the forecast calling for 580,000.
(Reporting by Rachel Chang; Editing by Jan Paschal)