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Stocks Move Mostly Lower Amid Global Economic Concerns - U.S. Commentary


Stocks have moved mostly lower in morning trading on Thursday, adding to the modest losses posted in the previous session. The major averages are pulling back further off the two-month closing highs set on Tuesday.

In recent trading, the major averages have climbed well off their worst levels, although they remain in the red. The Dow is down 80.69 points or 0.3 percent at 25,309.61, the Nasdaq is down 39.06 points or 0.5 percent at 7,336.22 and the S&P 500 is down 12.78 points or 0.5 percent at 2,718.83.

The continued pullback by stocks comes amid concerns about the global economy after the European Commission lowered its eurozone growth forecast.

The European Commission slashed its GDP growth forecast for 2019 to 1.3 percent from 1.9 percent and lowered its estimate for growth in 2020 to 1.6 percent from 1.7 percent.

The downgrade reflected external factors, such as trade tensions and the slowdown in emerging markets, notably in China.

Officials warned that the European outlook faces substantial risks due to the uncertainty about Brexit and the slowdown in China.

A steep drop by shares of Twitter (TWTR) is also weighing on the markets after the social media giant reported better than expected fourth quarter results but forecast a jump in expenses this year.

On the U.S. economic front, a report from the Labor Department showed first-time claims for U.S. unemployment benefits pulled back less than expected in the week ended February 2nd after the jump seen in the previous week.

The report said initial jobless claims fell to 234,000, a decrease of 19,000 from the previous week's unrevised level of 253,000. Economists had expected jobless claims to drop to 221,000.

Oil service stocks have shown a substantial move to the downside in morning trading, dragging the Philadelphia Oil Service Index down by 2.8 percent.

The weakness among oil service stocks comes amid a decrease by the price of crude oil, with crude for March delivery slumping $0.91 to $53.10 a barrel.

Natural gas, computer hardware, and chemical stocks are also seeing significant weakness, while most of the other major sectors are showing more modest moves.

In overseas trading, stock markets across the Asia-Pacific region turned in a mixed performance on Thursday, with markets in Hong Kong and mainland China still closed for holidays. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index fell by 0.6 percent, while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped by 1.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the major European markets have all moved to the downside. While the German DAX Index has plunged by 2 percent, the French CAC 40 Index is down by 1.3 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index is down by 0.6 percent.

In the bond market, treasuries have moved higher after ending the previous session roughly flat. As a result, the yield on the benchmark ten-year note, which moves opposite of its price, is down by 3 basis points at 2.672 percent.

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