U.S. stocks sharply lower after the open; Dow Jones tumbles 1.55%

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Forex Pros - U.S. stock markets posted sharp losses after the open on Thursday, as market sentiment was dented after Moody's downgraded Spain's government-bond rating and following disappointing data from China and the U.S.

During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1.55%, the S&P 500 index slumped 1.62%, while the Nasdaq Composite index tumbled 1.68%.

Shares in the financial sector were broadly lower after Moody's downgraded Spain's government-bond rating by one notch to Aa2 from Aa1 and assigned it a negative outlook.

Bank of America saw shares slump 1.4%, shares in the second largest U.S. lender JP Morgan dropped 1.3%, while Citigroup saw shares fall 1.5%.

Meanwhile, U.S. listed shares of Spain's largest lender Banco Santander tumbled 3.1% after its chief executive, Alfredo Saenz, was banned from the banking industry for three months by the Spanish Supreme Court earlier Thursday.

Shares in the largest U.S. oil and gas refiner Valero Energy plunged 5.6% amid speculation it was close to acquiring Chevron's Pembroke refinery in the U.K. for nearly USD2 billion. Chevron saw shares fall 2.9% following the news.

Also Thursday, data-storage provider NetApp saw shares drop 7.2% after it acquired the Engenio external-storage systems business of LSI Corp. for approximately USD480 million. LSI saw shares jump 4.4% in early trade.

Shares in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters soared 31.5%, while Peet's Coffee & Tea plunged 13.8% after Green Mountain won a marketing partnership contract with Starbucks that both companies competed for. Starbucks saw shares add 8.5% following the news.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were broadly lower. The EURO STOXX 50 fell 1.04%, France's CAC 40 dropped 0.92%, Germany's DAX was down 1.18%, while the FTSE 100 tumbled 1.34%.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. Department of Labor said the number of people claiming initial jobless benefits in the week ending March 5 rose to a seasonally adjusted 397K, exceeding expectations for an increase to 382K.

Separate data showed that the U.S. trade deficit widened more-than-expected in January, while a Chinese government report showed that China unexpectedly posted a trade deficit of USD7.3 billion in February, confounding expectations for a surplus of USD4 billion.

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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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