U.S. stocks on Thursday began the final quarter of the year modestly down after economic reports included an unexpectedly sharp rise in weekly jobless claims. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 42 points to 9,669. Alcoa is up 2% on an upgrade. The S&P 500 Index fell 5 points to 1,051, while the technology-laden Nasdaq Composite dipped 14 points to 2,108. The big news over night was the CEO of Bank of America indicating he will step down at the end of the year. The stock is trading modestly higher this morning. Most of the financials are lower. After the first half an hour, the Dow dropped over 100 points on a weaker than expected manufacturing number, similar to yesterday. Nothing really looks good. The homebuilders are particularly weak. KB Homes is down 5% on a downgrade and housing data. In the tech sector Apple and PMC Sierra were upgraded, but both stocks are lower. Lawson Software is up 5% following earnings. Research in Motion is modestly higher, but that's about it for the good news. Through the morning and into the afternoon, the averages remain weak with the Dow down over 150 points. The Nadaq declined 50 points. Very few stocks are in the green. In the last hour the selling accelerated. No rebound today. The fourth quarter is starting like the third quarter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 203 points, or 2.1%, at 9,509. The S&P 500 Index declined 27 points, or 2.6%, to close at 1,029. The Nasdaq Composite shed 64 points, or 3.1%, at 2,057.
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