Stocks Opened Lower after Jobless Claims

U.S. stocks tilted slightly lower on Thursday after U.S. jobless claims rose less than expected last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was lately off 58.24 points at 10,881.71. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index shed 7.83 points to 1,136.20. The Nasdaq Composite Index declined 11.29 points to 2,449.22.

The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits rose slightly last week, a sign that the job market remains weak. Weekly applications increased by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 401,000, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Several retailers including Target, Limited Brands and Macy’s reported strong increases in revenue for the month that beat Wall Street estimates as consumers snagged discounts on clothing and other back-to-school merchandise despite the down economy.

The National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail trade group, expects winter holiday sales to rise 2.8 percent to $465.6 billion this year. That would be smaller than 2010’s 5.2 percent increase, but it’s higher than the average increase for November and December over the past 10 years.

Dexia is in negotiations to sell off its Luxembourg affiliate to a group of international investors and the Luxembourg government, the troubled Franco-Belgian bank said Thursday, in what is likely to be the first step in a massive rescue and restructuring.

Wine and spirits maker Constellation Brands Inc. said Thursday its second-quarter profit jumped 78 percent on improved wine and spirits sales in North America, price increases and lower cost-cutting charges. Its net income climbed to $162.7 million, or 76 cents per share, in the June-to-August quarter, up from $91.3 million, or 43 cents, a year earlier.

Oil prices rose above $80 a barrel Thursday, continuing a rebound from 12-month lows on signs that European finance officials are moving to bolster the region’s banks. By early afternoon in Europe, benchmark crude was up $1.17 to $80.85 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

The Bank of England surprised markets Thursday by sanctioning another 75 billion pounds ($116 billion) injection into a British economy that’s suffering from the shockwaves of Europe’s debt crisis and the British government’s austerity program.

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