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Dow Closes Down 47, Nasdaq Loses 33

Stocks kept sliding Thursday on news that the U.S. labor market remains in slow recovery mode. The government said more people applied for unemployment benefits last week. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose to the highest in six weeks.
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U.S. stocks continued a two-day slide Thursday on weak economic data and concern about the Federal Reserve's resolve to keep juicing the economy.

Signaling that the U.S. labor market remains in slow recovery mode, the government said more people applied for unemployment benefits last week. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, rose to the highest in six weeks.

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The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 46.92 points, or 0.3 percent, at 13,880.62.

The S&P 500 index dropped 9.53, or 0.6 percent, to 1,502.42. The S&P is headed for its first weekly loss of the year. The Nasdaq composite index lost 32.92, or 1 percent, to 3,131.49.

In Europe, markets closed sharply lower after a monthly survey of European executives showed that business activity in the European Union slowed in February, a strong signal that a downturn that began last year will continue into 2013. Benchmark indexes lost 2.3 percent in France, 1.9 percent in Germany, and 1.6 percent in Britain.

U.S. indexes have soared this year to the highest levels since the financial crisis but may be ready to fall back to earth, said Kim Caughey Forrest, senior analyst with Fort Pitt Capital Group, a portfolio management firm in Pittsburgh.

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"I think the market has gotten ahead of itself," she said. She said fourth-quarter earnings have generally met expectations, but only after those expectations were reduced because companies made dire projections in November and December.

Wal-Mart Stores rose after beating analysts' profit forecasts in the fourth quarter. However, the biggest retailer warned of a slow start to the year. It gained $1.05, or 1.5 percent, to $70.26.

After a strong start to the holiday season, Wal-Mart said, the first three weeks of December were weak, and business has been volatile since then. The company attributed some of the weakness to a delay in tax refund checks that have left people strapped for cash. Wal-Mart's customers also have less money to spend because a temporary payroll tax cut expired in December.

"Everybody's gotten a 2 percent pay cut, and people who file their taxes early are not getting a refund back in a timely manner," Forrest said.

Supermarket chain Safeway was the biggest gainer in the S&P 500, rising $2.84, or 14.1 percent, to $22.97 after saying its net income jumped 13 percent in the fourth quarter, helped by higher gift and prepaid card revenue.

Electric car company Tesla Motors plunged a day after reporting that its fourth-quarter net loss grew 10 percent on costs related to production of its new Model S. The stock fell $3.38, or 8.8 percent, to $35.16.

Earlier, Asian stocks had closed sharply lower. The sell-off began Wednesday afternoon in New York after the release of minutes from the Fed's latest meeting. The meeting notes showed that some policymakers want to wind down bond purchases and other measures aimed at boosting the economy.

The minutes revealed new divisions over the Fed's low-interest rate policies. There is no sign of inflation, yet there was more evidence that some Fed officials are ready to ease off the stimulus programs before the economy has fully recovered.

The Fed's bond-buying has been boosting markets by reducing the cost of borrowing for companies and investors, Forrest explained. When interest rates are lower, it's possible to do business cheaper even if a company isn't growing, she said.

"Thinking maybe interest rates will creep higher, this is a very chilling scenario" for the market, she said.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.98 percent from 2.05 percent early Wednesday as demand increased for ultra-safe assets.

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Ratings

Overnights, adults 18-49 for September 29, 2016
  • 1.
    1.6/6
  • 2.
    1.2/4
  • 3.
    1.2/4
  • 4.
    0.9/3
  • 5.
    0.6/2
  • 6.
    0.3/1
Source: Nielsen

Reviews

  • Rob Owen

    Easily fall’s best broadcast network comedy pilot, NBC’s The Good Place offers a clever high-concept premise that’s complemented with intelligent, sometimes absurdist humor. Created by Michael Schur, co-creator of NBC’s Parks and Recreation, The Good Place is a highly serialized series that’s essentially set in heaven and stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. NBC made five episodes of The Good Place available for review, and the show not only holds up, but also it improves, deepening characters that initially feel one-note and frequently leaving viewers guessing with cliffhanger endings to many of the episodes. The combination of snappy dialogue and winning but flawed characters makes The Good Place a great bet for fans of smart TV comedy.

  • Maureen Ryan

    Pitch has swagger, for good reason. It gets the big things right; the Fox drama about the first female baseball player in the Major Leagues is one of the year’s most assured and exciting debuts. But part of what impresses about the pilot is also the way it confidently strings together so many small but telling details. Ginny (Kylie Bunbury) is the first woman to be called up from the minors to the big leagues, and no show since Friday Night Lights has done a better job of portraying the internal and external pressures that weigh heavily on young athletes asked to do much more than merely succeed on the field. Pitch will likely do a good job of getting viewers to root for it. The hope is that the show won’t be an impressive, short-lived curiosity, but rather a long-term phenomenon.

  • Kevin Fallon

    In a fall TV season that’s already making a splash for championing diverse, distinctive voices in an array of projects that they created, wrote, and starred in, Better Things on FX stands out. The show is created by, written by, and starsPamela Adlon. She plays Sam Fox, the single mother of three daughters modeled after her own reality-show-ready experience raising three girls in Los Angeles following a divorce. Sam is also, like Adlon, a working actress — on shows both raunchy, a la Californication, and animated for children, like her role on Recess. It’s a refreshingly blunt take on single motherhood without sacrificing the warmth of parental love, portraying the dance between selfishness and selflessness that’s at the heart of being a parent — especially one weathering the hormonal fireworks of a household of four women at different ages.

  • David Wiegand

    The fall TV season doesn’t count as much as it used to — we already know that. But no matter how many retreads the broadcast networks throw at viewers in the next few months, this fall will be memorable because of the premiere of Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 6, on FX. The half-hour comedy created by and starring Donald Glover (Community), simply and brilliantly recalibrates our expectations of what a TV comedy is and how black lives are portrayed on the medium.

  • Louisa Ada Seltzer

    The second reboot of the 1980s John Candy movie Uncle Buck, bumped by ABC from midseason, has the same tired jokes you'll find on any second-rate sitcom. Too bad, because Mike Epps is appealing and ABC would be wise to keep him around for future shows, but there’s just not enough to this show to suggest it will last past summer. It also airs against NBC’s America’s Got Talent, summer’s No. 1 program on broadcast, which may make it even harder to find an audience.

  • Neil Genzlinger

    Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play All the Way, and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. Cranston’s performance is a gem — in his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.

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