Stocks Open Lower on Weak PMI Data

U.S. stocks opened lower Thursday as economic reports from around the globe intensified worries about the world economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 53.43 points, or 0.39%, to 13,524.53. The S&P 500 index shed 9.21 points, or 0.63%, to 1,451.84. The Nasdaq Composite declined 21.25 points, or 0.67%, to 3,161.37.

Fears of a rapidly slowing global economy trumped bullish enthusiasm over monetary stimulus on Thursday, after data from China’s manufacturing sector and the euro zone signaled a further contraction in business activity.The preliminary September composite euro-zone purchasing managers’ index, or PMI, dropped to 45.9 from 46.3 in August, its lowest reading since June 2009. Also Thursday, HSBC’s “flash” September PMI for China’s manufacturing sector ticked up to 47.8 from 47.6

Manufacturing closed out its weakest quarter in three years this month and the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits held near two-month highs last week, suggesting the economic recovery is failing to gain traction. manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index stood at 51.5 in September, unchanged from August. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.

Slighter fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. Initial jobless claims dropped by 3,000 to a seasonally adjusted 382,000 in the week ended Sept. 15, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Exxon Mobil Corp. will spend $1.6 billion to boost its holdings in the massive Bakken oil field in North Dakota and Montana by 50 percent. Exxon said Thursday it will buy all of the Bakken shale assets held by Denbury Resources Inc. for $1.6 billion in cash. Denbury will also receive Exxon’s interest in two fields in Wyoming and Texas.

Samsung Electronics Co plans to add Apple Inc’s iPhone 5 to existing patent lawsuits against its U.S. rival, stepping up its legal challenge to Apple as the two smartphone leaders seek to assert rights to key technologies.

Liberty Global Inc. (LBTYA) offered to buy the remaining 49.6 percent of Belgium’s Telenet Group Holding NV (TNET) for 1.96 billion euros ($2.5 billion), allowing the John Malone- led cable company to forge closer ties between European units.

Nike says its board has approved a plan to repurchase $8 billion of its common stock over four years. The footwear and clothing company said late Wednesday that its current $5 billion buyback program will be complete during its fiscal second quarter, with the new program starting once the current one closes.

ConAgra Foods Inc. (CAG)said Thursday its first-quarter profit nearly tripled to $250.1 million, or 61 cents a share, from $93.8 million, or 23 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted profit rose to 44 cents a share from 31 cents a share. Sales increased by 6.7% to $3.31 billion.

Continuing its foray into new lines of business, Starbucks (SBUX) is introducing a single-cup coffee machine that will allow consumers to make their own lattes at home with real milk.

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