US stocks lower on jobless claims, eurozone data

US stocks extended opening losses Thursday following weak reports on US jobs and European business activity.

About 40 minutes into trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 70.52 points (0.51 percent) at 13,857.02.

The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 9.90 (0.65 percent) to 1,502.05, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index fell 23.82 (0.75 percent) to 3,140.59.

The Labor Department said initial jobless claims rose to 362,000 in the week ending February 16, more than the analyst estimate of 358,000.

A Markit report on the eurozone business activity showed its purchasing managers index hit a two-month low at 47.3 in February, down from 48.6 the previous month.

"A disappointing report on eurozone business activity is dampening sentiment," said Charles Schwab & Co. in a market comment.

US stocks extended Wednesday's sharp losses that followed Federal Reserve meeting minutes highlighting debate over the Fed's bond-purchasing program.

Wal-Mart picked up 1.4 percent after it reported better-than-expected earnings and announced a higher dividend.

Constellation Brands gained 2.7 percent after the US Department of Justice announced it requested a stay in its antitrust suit against Anheuser-Busch InBev regarding its acquisition of Grupo Model.

Anheuser-Busch, which has proposed selling assets to Constellation, was off 1.3 percent.

Health-care company WellPoint edged 0.1 percent higher after increasing its dividend.

Banking equities were mostly trading lower, including Bank of America (down 1.4 percent), Goldman Sachs (down 1.5 percent) and JPMorgan Chase (down 0.8 percent). Wells Fargo rose 0.7 percent.

Verifone Systems, which designs and markets electronic payment systems, was off 38.4 percent after its preliminary financial results disappointed investors.

Tesla Motors, an electric vehicles and components manufacturer, slumped 8.3 percent after posting a net quarterly loss of $89.9 million.

Natural gas giant Chesapeake Energy dropped 0.6 percent after reporting a year-on-year decline in net income.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond fell to 1.98 percent from 2.02 percent late Wednesday, while the yield on the 30-year bond fell declined to 3.17 percent from 3.21 percent. Bond prices and yields move inversely.