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Wall Street falls on global slowdown concern

03-23-2012 11:28 BJT

NEW YORK, March 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S. stocks closed lower on Thursday as concerns about global economic slowdown weighed on the market.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 78.48 points, or 0.60 percent, to close at 13,046.14, logging a 3-day losing streak. The Standard & Poor's 500 was down 10.11 points, or 0.72 percent, to 1392.78. The Nasdaq Composite Index gave up 12.00 points, or 0.39 percent, to 3,063.32.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that initial jobless claims fell 5,000 to a seasonally adjusted 348,000 last week, the lowest level since February 2008.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said home prices dipped 0.1 percent in February, revised from a previously reported 0.7 percent increase. The housing data added concerns about the U.S. housing market recovery.

Meanwhile, eurozone economy showed unexpected decline in March as manufacturing activities contracted. The eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index fell to 48.7 in March from 49.3 in February, lower than 50 means contraction.

Also, the HSBC's flash China purchasing managers index fell back to 48.1 in March from February's 49.6, logging the fifth contraction months.

Adding to woes, a 24-hour strike in protest against austerity measures broke out in Portugal. Meanwhile, Italy's largest trade union has also called for a strike against a reform of the country 's labor market.

Concerns about global economic slowdown overshadowed the upbeat U.S. jobless claims as investors sold stocks to shun risks.

On the earnings front, FedEx's stock slipped despite the package delivery company reported better-than-expected earnings with record holiday shipping. Its rival UPS also edged lower.

Nike also posted strong quarterly earnings with revenues up 15 percent to 5.8 billion dollars. Its stock rose nearly 1 percent in after-hours trading.

Japan's Ministry of Finance on Thursday reported that Japan logged a 32.9 billion yen trade surplus in February, following January's 1.475 trillion deficit. The reverse of Japan's trade was mainly attributed to the export to the U.S., which had added 11.9 percent in February. The Japanese yen surged more than 1 percent against the dollar on Thursday, following the upbeat trade data.

On other markets, oil prices dropped broadly to close below 106 dollars a barrel as investors feared global economic slowdown may hurt energy demand. Gold price also dipped, pressured by a strong dollar.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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