* Weekly jobless claims fall to 249,000 vs. est. 257,000
* Dollar index surges to 11-week high
* Wal-Mart biggest drag on S&P 500, Dow
* Indexes down: Dow 0.45 pct, S&P 0.25 pct, Nasdaq 0.37 pct
(Adds details, comments updates prices)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
Oct 6 Drug stocks dragged Wall Street lower on
Thursday, while investors anxiously awaited a crucial jobs
report that would help set the tone for interest rate hikes in
the coming months.
A growing number of Fed officials have argued for higher
rates as the labor market remains robust and inflation inches
towards the central bank's 2 percent target.
The view was supported by a report that showed the number of
Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell to a near
43-year low last week.
"At the moment, what is driving the U.S. market is a
repricing around expectations of near-term Fed action," said
Bill Merz, investment strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management
in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Traders raised the odds of a rate hike to 64 percent for
December, up from 60 percent before the jobless claims report
was released, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.
The dollar index surged to a 11-week high after the
data, which comes a day before the U.S. Labor Department
releases its monthly hiring report.
At 10:51 a.m. ET (1451 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial
Average was down 82.93 points, or 0.45 percent, at
The S&P 500 was down 5.41 points, or 0.25 percent, at
2,154.32 and the Nasdaq Composite was down 19.68 points,
or 0.37 percent, at 5,296.34.
"We're in a period where the market may act in fits and
starts as we get new data," Merz said.
All 11 major S&P 500 indexes were lower on Thursday, with
healthcare weighing the most on the benchmark index.
Johnson & Johnson shares fell 0.9 percent after the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning on the
company's insulin pumps.
Pfizer fell 1.06 percent after agreeing to sell its
infusion therapy business to ICU Medical Inc for $1
billion in cash and stock.
Wal-Mart dropped 2.7 percent to $69.75 and was the
top drag on the S&P and the Dow after the world's largest
retailer forecast flat earnings for next year.
Twitter shares plunged 18.6 percent after
technology news website Recode said Disney and Alphabet
were not in the race for the company.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by
1,996 to 774. On the Nasdaq, 1,813 issues fell and 734 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed nine new 52-week highs and six new
lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 33 new highs and 20 new lows.
(Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by