Stocks Opened Sharply Lower, Wal-Mart Earnings Disappointed

U.S.stocks opened lower on Thursday on continued uncertainty over the next policy move by the Federal Reserve and after a deluge of economic data and disappointing results from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately shed
154.05 points, or 1%, to 15,183.61. The S&P 500 index lost 16.52 points, or 0.98%, to 1,668.87. The Nasdaq Composite fell 44.03 points, or 1.20%, to 3,625.24.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. cut its annual profit and revenue outlook Thursday as the world’s largest retailer continues to deal with a tough economy at home and abroad that’s squeezing its low-income shoppers. Wal-Mart also reported second-quarter results
that missed Wall Street estimates. Its second-quarter profit rose 1.3 percent to $4.07 billion, or $1.24 per share, for the three months ended July 31. That compares with $4.02 billion, or $1.18 per share, a year earlier. Net sales rose 2.4 percent
to $116.2 billion.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to a near six-year low last week, hinting at a pick- up in job growth in early August. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 15,000 to a seasonally adjusted 320,000, the lowest level since October 2007, the Labor Department said.

A big drop in automotive output helped keep industrial production flat in July, as the annual growth rate fell to the worst level in more than three years. The Federal Reserve said industrial production was unchanged on a seasonally adjusted basis after a downwardly revised 0.2% increase in June.

Cisco Systems Inc. announced that it is cutting 4,000 jobs to adjust to what Chief Executive John Chambers called a  “challenging” and “inconsistent” economy.

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