* Wal-Mart down after cutting FY forecast
* IBM up after Morgan Stanley upgrade
* Jobless claims unexpectedly fell last week
* Dow up 0.04 pct, S&P down 0.09 pct, Nasdaq down 0.03 pct (Updates to open)
By Abhiram Nandakumar
Feb 18 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks lost some steam after a three-day rally and were little changed on Thursday morning as a slump in Wal-Mart offset gains by IBM.
Seven of the 10 major S&P sectors were lower, led by the 0.6 percent fall in consumer discretionary and consumer staples sectors.
Wal-Mart slumped 4.7 percent to $63 after the retailer reported a decline in quarterly earnings and cut its full-year forecast. The stock was the biggest drag on the S&P and the Dow.
Limiting the losses were shares of IBM, which rose 4.4 percent to $131.71 after Morgan Stanley upgraded the stock to “overweight” and the company made another health-related acquisition.
Crude oil prices, whose performance has been tightly tied to the stock market, were up more than 2 percent, rising for the second straight day after Iran supported plans to freeze output and a report showed a surprise drop in U.S. inventory.
Adding to the positive sentiment, data showed jobless claims unexpectedly fell to 262,000 last week, pointing to labor market strength that could keep a Federal Reserve rate hikes on the table this year.
“Investors are taking a step back, evaluating what’s been going on ... and for the moment, there’s a lack of negative news and some stability in oil,” said Andre Bakhos, managing director at Janlyn Capital in Bernardsville, New Jersey.
At 9:40 a.m. ET (1440 GMT), the Dow Jones industrial average was up 7.33 points, or 0.04 percent, at 16,461.16.
The S&P 500 was down 1.74 points, or 0.09 percent, at 1,925.08 and the Nasdaq Composite index was down 1.32 points, or 0.03 percent, at 4,532.74.
A rally for the past three days boosted the benchmark S&P 500 5.3 percent. But such has been the rout since the start of the year, that the index is still down about 5.7 percent in 2016.
Nvidia was up 9.9 percent at $30.39 after the chipmaker’s revenue beat expectations.
Perrigo slid 5.9 percent at $136.55 after the drugmaker’s adjusted profit missed market estimates for the first time in five quarters.
Ingram Micro surged 21.6 percent to $36.05 after China’s HNA Group offered to buy the U.S. electronics distributor for $6 billion.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE by 1,367 to 1,287. On the Nasdaq, 1,153 issues fell and 1,018 advanced.
The S&P 500 index showed three new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded eight new highs and 12 new lows. (Reporting by Yashaswini Swamynathan and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D‘Souza)