American flags fly in front of the New York Stock...

American flags fly in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street on Feb. 10, 2011. Asian stock markets fell for a second day Thursday June 12, 2014 and European shares drifted as a dimmer outlook for global growth this year. Credit: AP / Mark Lennihan

A combination of so-so economic news and violence in Iraq helped push the stock market sharply lower Thursday.

At the close on Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 109.7 points, nearly 0.7 percent, at 16,734.2. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 13.8 points, about 0.7 percent, to 1,930.1. The Nasdaq composite was off 34.3 points, around 0.8 percent, at 4,297.6.

Stocks fell from the start of trading on a government report that retail sales for May came in slightly lower than expected. A separate report on jobs was weak, too. A surge in oil prices as violence flared in Iraq also weighed on the market, and hammered airline stocks.

For the Standard & Poor's 500, it was the third down day in a row, a reversal of sorts from steady, if unremarkable, rises for much of the year. The index is heading for its first weekly loss in three weeks.

Uri Landesman, president of hedge fund Platinum Partners, said investors had gotten too complacent about the S&P 500's slow rise this year, following a nearly 30 percent increase in 2013, and the pullback wasn't surprising. "It's time for profit taking, taking risk off the table," he said. "It's very rare that markets move up in straight line."

In the retail report, the Commerce Department said U.S. sales rose 0.3 percent last month, helped by a surge in auto demand. That was the fourth straight month of gains, but shy of the 0.4 percent increase that economists expected.

The Labor Department said that weekly applications for unemployment benefits rose 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 317,000.

"The data today was a little unfulfilling," said Lawrence Creatura, a portfolio manager at Federated Investors. Still, he was optimistic in the face of selling because he believes the economy is generally strengthening. "We're definitely not flinching. We're holding our positions."

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