Stocks Opened Slightly Lower in Short Session

U.S.stocks opened slightly lower on Thursday in a shortened trading session on Christmas eve. The Dow Jones industrial average lately fell 37.94 points, or 0.22%, to 17,564.67. The S&P 500 lost 2.63 points, or 0.13%, to 2,061.66. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.79 points, or 0.02%, to 5,046.72.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, nearing a 42-year low as labor market conditions continued to tighten in a boost to the economy. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 5,000to a seasonally adjusted 267,000 for the week ended Dec.19, not far from levels last seen in late 1973, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Oil futures edged higher on Thursday, extending gains scored the previous day after an unanticipated drop in U.S. stockpiles. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light, sweet crude futures rose 18 cents, or 0.5%, to $37.68 a barrel.

Apparel retailers, in need of good news during a holiday season stymied by warm weather and other factors, experienced a year-over-year online sales spike on Monday, according to Slice Intelligence.

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