* Wal-Mart sinks on weak forecast; drags down Dow
* JPMorgan falls, Bank of America rises after results
* U.S. retail sales barely rise in Sept
* Dow down 0.36 pct, S&P up 0.03 pct, Nasdaq up 0.31 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
Oct 14 (Reuters) - The Dow Jones industrial average retreated sharply on Wednesday as Wal-Mart's weak forecast spooked investors, wiping more than $20 billion off the retailer's market value.
The S&P 500 fluctuated following mixed bank results and disappointing economic data from the United States and China.
"The major theme, not only today but through the balance of the earnings season, is going to be the revisions to fourth quarter and 2016 earnings," said Bill Northey, chief investment officer of the private client group at U.S. Bank.
Wal-Mart sank almost 10 percent to $60.18, poised for its worst one-day performance in more than 17 years, after it forecast a drop of up to 12 percent in earnings per share in fiscal 2017.
The stock was the biggest drag on the Dow Jones industrial average, shaving nearly 37 points off the index, and pulled down the S&P consumer discretionary and consumer staples sectors.
Rival Target was down 4.3 percent, while Sears fell 3.1 percent.
"It's an earnings driven market and so those revisions and the color that we get from company commentary are going to be incredibly important in terms of driving the direction of the market, not only for the next couple of weeks, but really over the next year," Northey said.
S&P 500 companies are expected to report a 4.2 percent decline in third-quarter profit, the biggest in six years, according to Thomson Reuters data.
JPMorgan shares fell 2.8 percent to $59.86, a day after the bank reported disappointing third-quarter results.
Wells Fargo fell 0.7 percent to $51.48 while Bank of America rose 0.7 percent to $15.64 after reporting results on Wednesday.
At 12:51 a.m. ET (1651 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was down 61.47 points, or 0.36 percent, at 17,020.42.
The S&P 500 eked out a small gain, helped by energy and healthcare stocks. The index was up 0.56 points, or 0.03 percent, at 2,004.25. The Nasdaq composite index was up 14.87 points, or 0.31 percent, at 4,811.48.
Six of the 10 major S&P sectors were in the black.
Data on Wednesday showed that consumer inflation in China increased less than expected, while retail sales in the United States barely rose in September.
The Federal Reserve, which has not raised rates since 2006, has said it will wait for clear signs of economic stability before it pulls the trigger.
TripAdvisor soared 20.6 percent to $80.42 after the company announced a room-booking deal with Priceline.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,519 to 1,417. On the Nasdaq, 1,335 issues rose and 1,308 fell.
The S&P 500 index showed seven new 52-week highs and four new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 17 new highs and 45 new lows. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)