North American stocks fell at the start of trading on Thursday, following troubling developments in Europe and unspectacular economic reports from the United States.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 53 points or 0.4 per cent, to 13,073. The broader S&P 500 fell 9 points or 0.6 per cent, to 1397. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index fell 110 points or 0.9 per cent, to 12,304.
Some worries are emanating from Spain, where there’s a general strike ahead of the government’s planned austerity budget, raising concerns about whether the country will be able to drive down its deficit and avoid a credit crisis. As well, the European Commission’s economic sentiment indicator fell, versus an expectation for a flat reading.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims for the period ended last week rose to 359,000, versus an expectation for 350,000 claims. However, the third and final revision for U.S. gross domestic product in the fourth quarter was unchanged, at 3 per cent.
Best Buy Co. Inc. fell 5.7 per cent after it said it would close 50 stores after reporting a fourth quarter loss. Bank of America Corp. fell 1.3 per cent and Walt Disney Co. fell 1.7 per cent.
Among Canadian stocks, Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. fell 1.1 per cent and Manulife Financial Corp. fell 2.1 per cent. Research In Motion Ltd., which will report its quarterly results after markets close, rose 0.2 per cent.