NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stocks fell on Thursday as comments by the ECB president on the euro raised worries about Europe's outlook and curbed investors' appetite for risky assets.
The euro currency dropped against the safe-haven dollar and yen after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the exchange rate was important to growth and price stability, which investors took as a sign the bank is concerned about the euro's advance in recent days.
Materials shares were among the weakest performers on the S&P 500, with the S&P 500 materials index <.SPLRCMA> down 0.7 percent, while housing stocks also declined. A housing sector index <.HGX> was off 1.4 percent.
Despite the day's decline and weakness earlier this week, the stock market has been in an almost uninterrupted uptrend for most of the year, with the S&P 500 gaining more than 5 percent for 2013.
Many investors could see buying opportunities in the decline.
"I don't think there's the systemic risk that we had some time ago of bank failures in Europe and so forth. They seem to be ahead of that sort of crisis," said Dan Veru, chief investment officer of Palisade Capital Management, in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 67.95 points, or 0.49 percent, at 13,918.57. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 6.31 points, or 0.42 percent, at 1,505.81. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was down 16.76 points, or 0.53 percent, at 3,151.72.
Top U.S. retailers reported strong January sales after offering compelling merchandise that drew in shoppers facing a hit to their take-home pay from higher payroll taxes.
But Ann Inc
Fund manager David Einhorn's Greenlight Capital on Thursday said it has sued Apple Inc
Akamai Technologies Inc
(Additional reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Kenneth Barry and Nick Zieminski)
(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013. Check for restrictions at: http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp