Stocks Opened Lower ahead of Fed Decision

U.S. stocks opened lower on Thursday, as investors braced for the Federal Reserve’s rate decision at 2 p.m. Eastern. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately slipped 13.85 points, or 0.08%, to 16,726.10. The S&P 500 shed 1.42 points, or 0.07%, to 1,993.89. The Nasdaq Composite was down 2.47 points, or 0.05%, to 4,886.77.

The number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in eight weeks, suggesting the labor market continued to strengthen despite the recent tightening in financial market conditions. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 11,000 to a seasonally adjusted 264,000 for the week ended Sept. 12, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Construction of new homes slowed down over the past two months. Housing starts fell 3% to an annual rate of 1.13 million units in August, the government said Thursday.

The U.S. current account deficit narrowed to a preliminary $109.7 billion in the second quarter, or 2.5% of gross domestic product, from a revised $118.3 billion, or 2.7%, in the first quarter, government data show.

Rite Aid Corp. (RAD) reported fiscal second-quarter profit that missed expectations, and lowered its full-year outlook. For the quarter ended Aug. 29, earnings fell to $21.5 million, or 2 cents a share, from $127.8 million, or 13 cents a share, in the same period a year ago, primarily because of losses on debt retirement, higher depreciation expenses and increased capital spending.

General Motors Co has agreed to pay $900 million and enter a deferred prosecution agreement to end a U.S. criminal investigation into its handling of defective ignition switches in many of its vehicles and which are linked to 124 deaths.

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