--Stocks extend early losses as Philly Fed index posts surprise decline
--Nine of 10 S&P 500 sectors in negative territory
--DJIA loses 66; S&P down 10
By Alexandra Scaggs
NEW YORK--Stocks extended their early declines to session lows following a disappointing report on Philadelphia-area business activity, as euro-zone economic weakness and the threat of an end to Federal Reserve stimulus jarred investors.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 66 points, or 0.5%, to 13861, extending Wednesday's declines. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index gave up 10 points, or 0.7%, to 1502, as nine of 10 sectors traded in the red, and the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 24 points, or 0.8%, to 3140.
On Wednesday, blue chips posted their second-biggest drop of the year as investors were jarred by the potential for an earlier-than-expected end to the Fed's experimental bond-buying programs.
"The market was looking for an excuse to go down and the Fed provided it," said Paul Zemsky, chief investment officer of multiasset strategies at ING U.S. Investment Management, which oversees about $170 billion.
In economic news:
The Philadelphia Federal Reserve's February index of business activity posted a surprise decline to -12.5 from January's -5.8.
Initial claims for jobless benefits rose to 362,000 in the latest week, more than the 350,000 expected.
The consumer price index for January was unchanged on the month; excluding volatile food and energy costs, it rose 0.3%.
Existing-home sales for January showed a slight increase to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 4.92 million, mostly in line with expectations.
The Conference Board's Leading Economic Index for January gained 0.2%, just below expectations of a 0.3% rise.
Write to Alexandra Scaggs at [email protected]