U.S. stocks open lower after weak data; Dow Jones down 0.03%

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Investing.com - U.S. stocks opened lower on Thursday, after the release of negative economic growth and jobless reports from the U.S., while markets continued to focus on developments in Cyprus.

During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average eased 0.03%, the S&P 500 index slipped 0.11%, while the Nasdaq Composite index edged down 0.07%.

Official data showed that the number of people who filed for initial unemployment assistance in the U.S. rose by 16,000 to a seasonally adjusted 357,000 last week, compared to expectations for an increase to 340,000.

A separate report showed that U.S. gross domestic product expanded at an annual rate of 0.4% in the three months to December, lower than forecasts for a 0.5% expansion.

The growth rate was the slowest since the first quarter of 2011, but was higher than initial estimates for growth of 0.1%.

Investors remained cautious, as as banks in Cyprus reopened for the first time in almost two weeks with strict capital controls in place. Cypriot banks had been closed since March 16 amid fears of a bank run while bailout talks were under way.

Financial stocks were broadly higher, as shares in JP Morgan and Bank of America added 0.17% and 0.25%, while Citigroup and Goldman Sachs gained 0.25% and 0.73% respectively.

On Wednesday, Citigroup won the dismissal of a lawsuit by Woori Bank over losses from mortgage-related investments, while a federal judge said JP Morgan must face a lawsuit by a pension plan that accused it of mismanaging its money by investing in Lehman Brothers Holdings notes before the bank filed for bankruptcy in 2008.

In addition, Reuters reported that fifteen major banks sued by the Federal Housing Finance Agency over risky housing debt urged a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday to intervene, citing "gravely prejudicial" rulings by the trial judge coordinating the litigation.

Among energy-linked stocks, Chevron climbed 0.41%, after saying on Wednesday that its executive pay would reflect certain incidents in 2012 as well as a financial performance that outpaced the company's peer group.

On the downside, rival group Chesapeake Energy slipped 0.15%, amid reports the company's search for a new chief executive to replace Aubrey McClendon is likely to extend beyond an April 1 deadline.

Elsewhere, cable group Liberty Global advanced 0.53% after saying it bought a 12.65% stake in Dutch cable firm Ziggo for EUR632.5 million.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were higher. The EURO STOXX 50 gained 0.77%, France's CAC 40 advanced 0.70%, Germany's DAX climbed 0.40%, while Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.59%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index retreated 0.74%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 1.26%.

Also Thursday, data showed that the Chicago purchasing managers' index slid to 52.4 in March, from a reading of 56.8 the previous month, compared to expectations for a decline to 56.5.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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