Stocks Opened Lower, Oil Prices Extended Losses

U.S. stocks opened lower on Thursday as oil prices extended losses and investors digested Wednesday’s Fed minutes. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 189.44 points, or 1.09%, to 17,159.29. The S&P 500 shed 17.84 points, or 0.86%, to 2,061.77. The Nasdaq Composite was down 48.37 points, or 0.96%, to 4,970.69.

The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but the trend remained consistent with solid labor market momentum that could keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates this year. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 277,000 for the week ended Aug. 15, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Oil prices continued declining Thursday, after a surprise increase in U.S. oil inventories added to the bearish sentiment engulfing the market. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate futures for delivery in September were trading down 0.2% at $41.19 a barrel, paring earlier losses.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals will pay about $1 billion to buy Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the first prescription drug intended to boost sexual desire in women. The deal announced Thursday comes a day after U.S. regulators approved the pill.

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