Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened lower on Thursday, after relatively positive U.S. data as investors eyed the release of additional U.S. economic reports, while concerns over the financial situation in Cyprus continued to weigh.
During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 0.47%, the S&P 500 index dropped 0.48%, while the Nasdaq Composite index retreated 0.82%.
Preliminary data showed that the U.S. manufacturing purchasing managers' index rose to 54.9 im March from a reading of 54.3 the previous month, disappointing expectations for a rise to 55.1.
Separately, the Department of Labor said the number of people who filed for unemployment assistance last week rose by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 336,000, compared to expectations for an increase of 8,000 to 342,000.
The data came after the Fed announced on Wednesday that it will leave monetary policy unchanged, in spite of recent signs that the U.S. recovery is gaining traction, citing concerns over high unemployment levels and risks from tax increases and federal government spending cuts.
Meanwhile, markets were also jittery as negotiations aimed at finding an alternative solution on a bailout deal for Cyprus continued after the parliament rejected a controversial bank deposit tax in a vote on Tuesday.
J.C. Penney tumbled 1.18% after the retailer said in an annual report on Wednesday that fixing its performance could take more time than it initially believed and suggested that any change in its strategy could be expensive.
In the same sector, Guess dove 6.16%, Tilly's sank 9.59% and Pacific Sunwear of California saw shares plummet 8.48% after the three companies forecast first-quarter results significantly below analysts' estimates, as they battle lowering consumer demand.
Financial stocks added to losses, as shares in Bank of America inched down 0.01% and Citigroup eased 0.04%, while JP Morgan slid 0.33% and Goldman Sachs declined 0.38%.
Among earnings, Lululemon, down 0.05%, posted a profit that topped expectations but said it expects earnings to decline in the current quarter due to the yoga pants recall earlier in the week.
On the upside, aircraft manufacturer Boeing added 0.26%, as the company was reportedly planning to conduct two flight tests of its revamped 787 battery system, possibly as soon as the end of the week.
The 787 flights, the first since February, would mark another step toward Boeing's recently announced goal of returning the jet to service in a matter of weeks.
Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were sharply lower. The EURO STOXX 50 tumbled 1.09%, France's CAC 40 plummeted 1.48%, Germany's DAX retreated 1.17%, while Britain's FTSE 100 declined 1%.
During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index slipped 0.14%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index rallied 1.34%.
Later in the day, the U.S. was to release industry data on existing home sales and official data on manufacturing activity in Philadelphia.
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