U.S. stocks opened lower on Thursday, as a jump in weekly jobless claims and stronger than expected inflation data fueled concerns about the economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 10 points to 11,744, weighed down by a 4% drop in Merck's shares after they discontinued research on an experimental blood thinner drug. The S&P 500 index dropped a point to 1,284. The Nasdaq Composite fell 4 points to 2,732. After hitting new highs yesterday the averages are succumbing to a little profit-taking which is healthy. In the tech space Intel is modestly lower ahead of earnings tonight. Micron looks good up 4% on two upgrades this morning. Apple, Amazon, Xilinx, Cisco Systems, EMC, and Juniper Networks are all modestly higher on upgrades. Research in Motion has performed nicely of late up another 2.5% this morning. The financials are quiet this morning. E-Trade is lower on a downgrade. US Bancorp and Ameriprise are higher on upgrades. The commodities are mostly lower. Marathon Oil is a big winner up 9% after deciding to spin off their refining business. ConocoPhillips is lower on a downgrade. After the first hour the Dow sunk a little lower due to Merck dropping 6%. Dow component Alcoa is down 2%. The Nasdaq remained down 4 points. Through the morning the averages slowly improved with the Nasdaq moving into the green. The financials are slowly improving. Ford Motor is at a new 52 week high thanks in part to Jim Cramer hosting his show at their headquarters last night. In the afternoon the averages sold off with a modest recovery in the last hour. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished down 23 points to end at 11,731. The S&P 500 index dropped 2 points to 1,283, with materials, healthcare, and financials falling the most among its 10 sectors. The Nasdaq Composite lost 2 points closing at 2,735.
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