U.S. stocks steady after upbeat data; Dow Jones down 0.06%


Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened steady on Thursday, after the release of upbeat U.S. economic reports as uncertainty over whether central banks will roll back stimulus continued to rattle global markets.

During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average eased 0.06%, the S&P 500 index dipped 0.05%, while the Nasdaq Composite index slipped 0.10%.

The Department of Labor said the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week fell by 12,000 to 334,000, compared to expectations for a decline of 1,000 to 345,000.

Separately, the Commerce Department said retail sales rose 0.6% in May, led higher by increased automobile purchases, beating forecast for a 0.4% increase.

Core retail sales, which exclude auto sales, were up 0.3%, in line with expectations.

But investors remained cautious as the prospect of an end to central bank stimulus fuelled a broad based sell-off in risk assets.

In addition, the World Bank earlier said in a report that the global economy will expand 2.2% this year, less than a January forecast for 2.4% growth and slower than last year's 2.3%.

In the tech sector, Hewlett-Packard retreated 0.84% after CEO Meg Whitman on Wednesday said that revenue growth is "still possible" for the computer maker in its fiscal year 2014.

Separately, Apple shares edged down 0.05%, amid reports the tech giant may be launching iPhones with bigger screens, cheaper models, and in a range of colors over the next year.

Adding to losses, DuPont slid 0.39% after saying it expects to see full-year earnings at the lower end of its previously issued guidance.

On the upside, Clearwire climbed 0.46% after the company's board recommended that shareholders accept an offer of USD4.40 a share from Dish Network, shunning a lower bid from its majority owner Sprint Nextel.

Also in company news, Safeway, the second-largest U.S. grocery-store chain agreed to sell its Canadian stores to Empire's Sobeys Inc. unit for about USD5.7 billion in cash, sending shares up 15.58%.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were lower. The EURO STOXX 50 dropped 0.51%, France's CAC 40 slipped 0.22%, Germany's DAX tumbled 0.94%, while Britain's FTSE 100 slid 0.30%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged 2.19%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index dove 6.35%.

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