Stocks Opened Higher and Turned Negative

U.S. stocks opened higher and turned negative on Thursday, as crude oil prices -one trigger for Wall Street’s sharp selloff- attempted to stabilize. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 29.48 points, or 0.18%, to 16,121.93. The S&P 500 was down 4.21 points, or 0.22%, to 1,886.07. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 27.93 points, or 0.62%, to 4,498.14.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but remained below levels associated with a healthy labor market. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 7,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000 for the week ended Jan. 9, the Labor Department said on Thursday.

Oil prices steadied on Thursday, but remained near 12-year lows on the prospect of Iran unleashing its oil on an oversupplied market and with few signs of improving demand in a fragile global economy. Brent crude, the global benchmark, traded at $30.78 a barrel, up 47 cents day on day, at 1331 GMT.

JPMorgan Chase & Co, the biggest U.S. bank by assets, reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit for the final quarter of the year. JPMorgan’s net income rose to $5.43 billion in the three months ended Dec. 31 from $4.93 billion a year earlier. On a per-share basis, the New York-based lender earned $1.32. Analysts had expected earnings of $1.25 per share.

Best Buy Co. on Thursday lowered its sales outlook for the current quarter after weak mobile-phone sales hurt holiday results. For the fourth quarter, the electronics retailer now expects domestic sales to decline 1.5%, compared with previous guidance for flat sales.

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