Jobs Data Weigh on Wall Street

Stocks on Wall Street opened lower Thursday as investors weighed greater-than-expected jobless claims against a small fourth-quarter profit from JPMorgan Chase.
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Stocks in New York moved modestly lower at Thursday's open as investors took in

JPMorgan Chase

(JPM) - Get Report

earnings and adjusted to jobless claims and a Jobs-less

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

.

The

Dow Jones Industrial Average

was sinking 79 points at 8120, and the

S&P 500

was losing 11 points at 831. The

Nasdaq

was down 15 points at 1474.

JPMorgan

reported better than expected profit for the recent quarter but still reported higher credit costs. CEO Jamie Dimon said higher losses are likely if the economy deteriorates further.

JPMorgan, the first big U.S. bank to air it earnings, will be followed by

Citigroup

(C) - Get Report

on Friday.

The Labor Department said Thursday that

initial claims for unemployment benefits

increased 54,000 to 524,000 for the week ended January 10 on a seasonally adjusted basis. The jobless claims figure was greater than the consensus of 501,000.

The Labor Department also said the

producer price index

, which measures the costs of goods before they reach consumers, retracted 1.9% in December, following a 2.2% decline in November and a 2.8% drop in October on a seasonally adjusted basis. Economists had predicted a 2% decline.

In other data, RealtyTrac reported Thursday that more than 2.3 million homeowners in the U.S. faced

foreclosure proceedings in 2008

, an 81% increase from 2007, and more than 860,000 properties were actually repossessed by lenders, more than double the 2007 level.

Stocks in New York ended Wednesday's session with steep losses as the market absorbed a plethora of dismal data -- including weaker-than-expected retail figures for December -- and punished financials.

After Wednesday's market close, Apple said

CEO Steve Jobs

will take a medical leave of absence until the end of June and Chief Operating Officer Tom Cook will be minding the iPhone and Macintosh maker's day-to-day operations in the interim.

Meanwhile, software giant

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Report

is reportedly considering significant layoffs. According to

The Wall Street Journal

, the job cuts that could be announced as early as next week.

Leading the losses this week, Citigroup is expected to post its fifth straight quarterly loss, and reports surfaced from earlier in the week suggest that Citi's brokerage venture with

Morgan Stanley

(MS) - Get Report

would be the first in a series of steps to essentially

take apart Citi's financial supermarket model

.

Investors, skeptical about the banks ability to sustain itself, as a whole and without more government aid, sent shares down sharply. Late Wednesday,

The Wall Street Journal

reported that the U.S. government was close to extending billions in additional aid to

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Report

as it swallows the acquisition of Merrill Lynch.

In commodities, oil was falling $1.05 to $36.23 a barrel, while gold was rising $8.10 to $816.90 an ounce.

As stocks were declining, longer dated Treasuries moved higher. The 30-year note was down 2/32, yielding 2.2%, while the 10-year note was adding 9/32 to yield 2.9%.

The dollar was stronger against the euro, pound and yen.

Overseas, the FTSE in London and the DAX in Frankfurt were both edging lower Wednesday, Japan's Nikkei Hong Kong's Hang Seng ended with losses.

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