Stocks head lower on Wall Street, led by banks, despite encouraging news on job market

The Associated Press

FILE - This July 15, 2013 file photo shows a sign for Wall Street outside the New York Stock Exchange, in New York. Asian stocks rose Thursday, June 26, 2014, tracing gains on Wall Street, where shares shrugged off a poor quarterly economic report as a blip and instead factored in rebounding growth even as policymakers maintain ultralow interest rates. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

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By MATTHEW CRAFT, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — The stock market sank early Thursday following a disappointing report on Americans' spending last month. Bed Bath & Beyond and banks were among the biggest losers.

KEEPING SCORE: A half hour after the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average was down 89 points, or 0.5 percent, at 16,779. The Standard & Poor's 500 index sank nine points, or 0.5 percent, to 1,949, while the Nasdaq composite index fell 19 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,362.

JOBS: The government said that the number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits declined last week, the latest evidence that an economic slowdown earlier this year hasn't caused employers to shed workers. The unemployment rate is 6.3 percent, the lowest level in more than five years.

TOOK A BATH: Bed Bath & Beyond sank 9 percent, the biggest loss in the S&P 500, after the company posted quarterly earnings and sales late Wednesday that fell short of analysts' estimates. The store's stock dropped $5.80 to $55.31.

HEAVY METAL: Alcoa plans to acquire Firth Rixson, a British maker of jet-engine parts, for $2.9 billion, as the company continues to shift away from its aluminum-smelting roots. Alcoa's stock rose 33 cents, or 2 percent, to $14.87 in early trading.

EUROPE: Major European markets wavered around the start line Thursday. France's CAC 40 edged up 0.1 percent while Germany's DAX slipped 0.1 percent. The FTSE 100 index of leading British companies was flat.

BONDS AND COMMODITIES: In the market for government bonds, the yield on the 10-year note dropped to 2.52 percent from 2.56 percent late Wednesday. Bond yields fall when prices rise. The price of crude oil fell 43 cents to $106.07 a barrel.

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