Wall Street opened lower on Thursday after big US retailers reported disappointing sales in the holiday shopping season.
Retailers such as Wal-Mart, Macy's and Limited Brands cut earning forecasts after recession-hit consumers reduced holiday spending.
Wal-Mart, the largest US retailer, said that its December sales were worse than previous forecasts.
Meanwhile, the US Labor Department reported that initial applications for unemployment insurance dropped by 24,000 to 467,000 for the week ending Jan 3. Economists had expected initial claims to increase to 540,000.
The Dow Jones fell 57.98 points to 8,711.72. The Standard & Poor's 500 index lost 4.44 points to 902.21, and the Nasdaq slipped 6.35 points to 1,592.71.