- U.S. stocks opened lower on Thursday, after data showed that U.S. initial jobless claims rose in line with expectations last week, but the number of continuing jobless claims remained above the three million mark for the second successive week.

During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.89%, the S&P 500 declined 0.75%, while the Nasdaq Composite index retreated 0.80%.

The number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week rose to 326,000, the Labor Department said, up from the previous week’s revised total of 325,000.

However, the number of people filing continuing unemployment claims rose to 3.056 million up from 3.022 million in the week to January 11. Analysts had expected continuing claims to fall to 2.930 million.

Separately, market research group Markit said that its preliminary U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers’ index declined to 53.7 this month from a final reading of 55.0 in December. Analysts had expected the index to hold steady in January.

International Business Machines dropped 0.62% after Chinese maker of personal computers Lenovo Group officially agreed to buy IBM''s server business for USD2.3 billion.

Among auto stocks, Tesla Motors tumbled 1.35% following reports it plans to its battery-powered Model S sedan in China, in a move to test demand for electric vehicles in the world’s largest auto market.

On the upside, Netflix shares soared 14.02% after the subscription streaming service projected customer growth that topped market estimates and said it may charge new users more to share accounts.

In earnings news, McDonald''s reported weaker-than-expected quarterly revenue, sending its shares down 0.23%. In addition, the restaurant chain named Deborah Wahl chief marketing officer of its struggling U.S. operations.

Lockheed Martin rallied 1.05% after reporting better-than-expected fourth quarter earnings and raising its full-year earnings outlook to a range between USD10.25 to USD10.55 per share, compared to expectations for full-year earnings of USD10.29 per share.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were lower. The EURO STOXX 50 retreated 0.70%, France’s CAC 40 declined 0.57%, Germany''s DAX lost 0.74%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 shed 0.49%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index tumbled 1.51%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index declined 0.79%.

Also Thursday, the preliminary reading of China’s HSBC manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell to a six-month low of 49.6 in January from a final reading of 50.5 in the previous month. Analysts had expected the index to tick up to 50.6.

Later in the day, the U.S. was release a private sector report on existing home sales.

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger