Dow tumbles 320 points as tech sell-off outweighs encouraging jobless-claims data

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  • US stocks fell on Thursday, even as weekly jobless-claims data came in better than expected.
  • Weekly jobless claims fell by more than 30,000 from the previous week, to 860,000, though that was higher than the consensus estimate of 850,000.
  • Tech stocks led the decline as investors digested Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s comments on Wednesday expressing uncertainty about the economic recovery and saying the Fed didn’t expect to raise interest rates until at least 2023.
  • Oil prices traded flat after reports that US stockpiles fell by 9.5 million barrels last week. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 1.8%, to $39.42 per barrel.
  • Watch major indexes update live here.

US stocks fell on Thursday as investors digested weekly jobless-claims data and comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell.

In a signal that the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is muddling along, weekly jobless claims fell by more than 30,000 from the previous week, to 860,000, slightly higher than the consensus estimate of 850,000.

Tech stocks led the decline even after the cloud-tech platform Snowflake staged the biggest initial public offering of the year on Wednesday. Its stock more than doubled in its first day of trading.

Here’s where US indexes stood shortly after the 9:30 a.m. ET market open on Thursday:

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Investors digested Powell’s Wednesday-afternoon Fed policy speech, in which he expressed uncertainty about the economic recovery. A majority of the Fed’s Board of Governors don’t expect to raise interest rates until at least 2023.

Investors are likely to turn their attention to additional stimulus measures from Congress. While Republicans and Democrats haven’t landed on the same page on a “skinny” deal, key negotiators have seemed increasingly optimistic about a deal.

President Donald Trump on Wednesday said Republicans should warm up to the idea of sending bigger direct payments to Americans.

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Elsewhere, Yelp said in a report that 60% of the 163,735 businesses that had closed in the US as of August 31 because of the pandemic wouldn’t reopen, suggesting that small businesses have fared worse than big ones. The total business closures represented a 23% jump since mid-July, Yelp said.

The SPAC craze continued as Richard Branson announced plans to launch a $400 million special-purpose acquisition company. Branson has experience with SPACs: His Virgin Galactic went public via merging with a SPAC led by the billionaire investor Chamath Palihapitiya.

Spot gold fell as much as 1.3%, to $1,933.17 per ounce. The US dollar extended its decline while Treasury yields rose slightly.

Crude-oil futures fell after the American Petroleum Institute reported that US inventories fell by 9.5 million barrels last week, according to Bloomberg. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as much as 1.8%, to $39.42 per barrel. Brent crude, oil’s international standard, fell 1.7%, to $41.50 per barrel, at intraday lows.

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