Stocks Opened Lower after Weaker Data

U.S. stocks opened slightly lower on Thursday after weak U.S. economic data heightened investors’ fears of a slowdown in the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was lately up 1.79 points, or 0.01%, to 16,338.45. The S&P 500 shed 4.64 points, or 0.24%, to 1,907.89. The Nasdaq Composite fell 25.38 points, or 0.56%, to 4,478.85.

The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, suggesting some loss of momentum in the labor market amid a sharp economic slowdown and stock market selloff. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 285,000 for the week ended Jan. 30, the Labor Department said.

U.S. productivity fell sharply in the final three months of 2015, closing out a fifth straight year of weak gains in worker efficiency. The Labor Department said Thursday that productivity — the amount of output per hour of work — fell at an annual rate of 3 percent in the fourth quarter.

ConocoPhillips (COP) missed fourth-quarter profit expectations and lowered its dividend. The company reported a net loss of $3.5 billion, or a loss of $2.78 per share, wider than a net loss of $39 million, or a loss of 3 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.

Philip Morris International Inc.(PM) missed fourth-quarter revenue expectations and provided a downbeat profit outlook for 2016. Earnings for the latest quarter fell to $1.25 billion, or 80 cents a share, from $1.61 billion, or $1.03 a share, a year ago.

Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc. posted better-than-expected results in its fourth quarter, despite declines in same-store sales and traffic at its Dunkin’ Donuts U.S. locations. For the latest quarter, same-store sales fell 0.8% at Dunkin’ Donuts U.S. locations, below the 1.5% growth seen in the year-prior period.

A top Federal Reserve official said on Thursday he backs tougher stress tests for “too big to fail” banks including higher capital requirements that would make them “even more binding.” The United States adopted both stress tests and capital surcharges for banks in the wake of the 2007-2009 financial crisis, when U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed and set off a deep global recession.

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