Stocks Opened Lower on Europe Data

U.S. stocks opened lower on Thursday after data showed weaker-than-expected economic growth data from Europe and Japan, raising concerns about global growth. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately dropped 13.40 points, or 0.10%, to 13,969.51 and the S&P 500 index slipped 2.32 points, or 0.15%, to 1,518.01. The Nasdaq Composite index declined 8.45 points, or 0.26%, to 3,188.43.

Figures Thursday showed that output in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, contracted by more than anticipated in the last three months of 2012. And it was the German drop that lay behind a deepening of the recession across the economy of the 17 European Union countries that use the euro.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 27,000 to a seasonally adjusted 341,000, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The prior week’s claims figure was revised to show 2,000 more applications received than previously reported.

PepsiCo Inc (PEP) reported a higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit on Thursday, helped by increases in sales volume and prices, and gave a 2013 forecast consistent with its ongoing turnaround plan. In the just- ended fourth quarter, net income was $1.66 billion, or $1.06 per share, up from $1.42 billion, or 89 cents per share, a year earlier. Excluding special items, earnings were $1.09 per share.

Nestle SA, the world’s biggest food and drinks maker, predicted another challenging year ahead but overcame tough global economic conditions to post a full-year net profit Thursday of 10.6 billion Swiss francs ($11.55 billion) for 2012. It reported broad-based growth across all product ranges and regions with sales reaching 92.2 billion francs ($100.5 billion), up from 83.6 billion francs ($91.11 billion) in 2011. The results compare with a full-year 2011 profit of 9.5 billion Swiss francs ($10.35 billion).

American Airlines and US Airways (LCC) have formally announced plans to merge in a deal that creates the world’s largest air carrier.

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