Stocks Ended Lower By Data

U.S. stocks finished moderately lower on Thursday, as investors weighed poor service sector growth and central bank rate cuts. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 47.15 points, or 0.36%, at 12,896.67.  The S&P 500 Index fell 6.44 points, or 0.47%, to close at 1,367.58. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 0.04 point to close at 2,976.12.

U.S. services activity slowed in June to the weakest level since January 2010, according to data released by the Institute for Supply Management on Thursday. The ISM services index fell to 52.1% from 53.7% in May, which was worse than the 52.9% than economists expected.

China, the euro zone and Britain loosened monetary policy in the space of less than an hour on Thursday, signaling a growing level of alarm about the world economy, although suggestions of coordinated action were played down.

As economic uncertainty sapped both consumer confidence and sentiment in June, shoppers also exercised caution with their wallets and delivered U.S. retailers’ worst monthly sales in three years. Total June sales at stores open at least a year — a key performance metric that strips out the impact of new and closed stores — rose 0.1%, missing the 0.5% gain Wall Street was looking for.

The number of U.S. businesses and consumers filing for bankruptcy fell 14 percent in the first half of 2012 and could end the year at the lowest level since before the 2008 financial crisis, according to data released on Thursday. New bankruptcy filings fell to 632,130 in the first six months of the year compared to the same period last year, according to Epiq Systems Inc, which manages documents and claims for companies in bankruptcy.

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