U.S. stocks fell sharply in early trading on Thursday, tracking losses in global equity markets as the market sentiment remained subdued a day after when the Federal Reserve signaled possible squeezing of its bond purchase program by the year-end.
At last check, the DJIA fell 0.48%; the NASDAQ Composite Index plunged 1.08% while the S&P 500 Index lost 0.78%.
Weekly first-time jobless claims climbed 18,000 from the last week to a seasonally adjusted 354,000, showed a data provided by the Labor Department. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecasted claims rising to 340,000 from last week’s 334,000. The four week moving average for initial claims increased 2,500 to 348,250.
In some corporate news, the social networking giant, Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB
) is scheduled to hold a press conference later today. Speculation is rife that the company would announce launching of video feature for its app, Instagram.
Shares of Rite Aid Corporation (NYSE: RAD
) fell in early trade. The drugstore chain reported earnings of 9 cents a share, which matched analysts’ estimate but revenue missed expectation. The Company reaffirmed its guidance for fiscal year 2014 but said that results would come at the lower end of projections.
Shares of Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ
) edged up in early trade after the computer maker’s stock was upgraded by Wells Fargo to “outperform” from “market-perform”, and raised the price target to $30-$32 from $23-$25, citing possible growth in earnings, free cash flow and sale of assets.
Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ: ORCL
) is expected to report quarterly results after the closing bell.
In some other markets, crude oil futures fell 1.72% to $96.55 a barrel while U.S. gold futures plunged 5.67% to $1,296.10 an ounce.
The U.S. dollar traded broadly higher during Asian and European trading hours on Thursday.