US open: Stocks head south following retail sales and jobless claims report
As of 1530 BST, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.53% at 34,630.88, while both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite came out the gate 0.63% weaker at 4,452.25 and 15,066.43, respectively.
The Dow opened 183.51 points lower on Thursday, cutting into gains recorded in the previous session.
Thursday's primary focus was US retail sales, which rose unexpectedly in August, with a broad pickup in purchases across the majority of categories more than offsetting weakness at auto dealers. According to the Department of Commerce, the value of overall retail purchases climbed 0.7% last month, following a downwardly revised 1.8% decrease in July. Excluding autos, sales advanced 1.8% in August for their largest increase in the last five months.
Market participants were also digesting the news that initial jobless claims rose unexpectedly during the week ended 11 September. According to the Department of Labor, in seasonally adjusted terms the number of initial unemployment claims rose by 20,000 to reach 332,000. Economists were expecting initial claims to have increased to 320,000.
Elsewhere on the macro front, the Philadelphia Fed's September manufacturing business outlook survey rose to 30.7, in stark contrast to expectations for a decline to 18.8. The index for new orders fell to 15.9 from 22.8, the shipments index advanced by 11 points to 29.9, the current employment index declined to 26.3 from 32.6, and on the inflation front, the index for prices paid declined four points but remained elevated at 67.3.
Lastly in the datasphere, business inventories grew 0.5% in July, just as expected, with inventories now up 7.2% year-on-year.
Also in focus were concerns that a fresh security pact between Australia, the UK and the US may further escalate tensions between China and the US, with Beijing seen as being highly likely to reply in some form or another over the coming days.
In the corporate space, Moderna shares were trading higher early on Thursday after the drugmaker published data on breakthrough Covid-19 cases that backed pushes for the widespread use of vaccine booster shots.
No major earnings were slated for release on Thursday.