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NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — U.S. stocks traded sharply lower Thursday as a toxic mix of weak jobless-claims data, a surprise intervention in the oil markets and persistent euro-zone worries sparked a selloff in risky assets.
Initial jobless claims rose by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 429,000 in the week ended June 18, the Labor Department said Thursday. The prior week’s figure was revised higher to 420,000, from an originally reported 414,000.
European markets were broadly lower after a weak reading in a survey of euro-zone purchasing managers renewed concerns of an economic slowdown. European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet warned that fallout for the banking sector from euro-zone governments’ public finances was the region’s “most serious threat to financial stability.”
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday he didn’t have all the answers as to why the economy has struggled recently as the U.S. central bank closed the doors on a controversial bond purchase program.
“We don’t have a precise read on why this slower pace of growth is persisting,” Bernanke told a press conference after the Federal Open Market Committee meeting where the central bank said it would end a $600 billion bond purchase program as planned in eight days and kept interest rates at historic lows.
But the Fed chairman said it was possible that some of the slowdown might be to longer-lived issues that could persist into 2012. He cited weakness in the financial sector, the housing market and consumer balance sheets as three headwinds.