Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened lower on Thursday, after data showed that U.S. jobless claims rose less-than-expected last week, while news the Federal Reserve could raise interest rates as soon as next year continued to weigh.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.13%, the S&P 500 fell 0.10%, while the Nasdaq Composite index edged down 0.06%.
The U.S. Department of Labor said the number of individuals filing for initial jobless benefits in the week ending March 15 rose by 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 320,000 from the previous week’s total of 315,000.
Analysts had expected jobless claims to rise by 10,000 to 325,000 last week.
At the conclusion of its two-day policy setting meeting on Wednesday, the Fed said it would reduce its monthly bond purchases by an additional $10 billion to $55 billion.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen indicated that the bank could begin to raise interest rates about six months after the bond-buying program winds up, which is expected to happen this fall.
The Fed statement also emphasized that economic conditions could mean that rates would remain on hold at record lows for some time, even after inflation and employment return to their longer-run trends.
The central bank also updated its forward guidance, discarding the 6.5% unemployment threshold for considering when to increase borrowing costs and said it will look at a wide range of information.
EBay Inc. dropped 0.42% after activist investor Carl Icahn announced that he is backing away from his proposal to separate the company from its PayPal payments unit.
Also in the Internet sector, Yahoo! Inc. shares retreated 0.65% as Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer was reporedly preparing to pare the company''s stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. The move could weigh on the U.S. Web portal’s investor appeal.
Adding to losses, U.S.-traded Toyota shares plummeted 2.01% after the automaker said it reached a $1.2 billion settlement with the Justice Department over its sudden acceleration problems.
Elsewhere, Lennar reported a 36% rise in quarterly profit, sending shares in the homebuilder up 0.73%.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were lower. The EURO STOXX 50 slid 0.76%, France’s CAC 40 dropped 0.67%, Germany''s DAX retreated 0.78%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 declined 0.87%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index plummeted 1.79%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index lost 1.65%.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to publish data on existing home sales and manufacturing activity in the Philadelphia region.