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U.S. stocks fall after jobless claims raise recession fears

U.S. stocks are falling on Thursday as stronger-than-expected jobless claims added to fears that a recession was coming.

At 11:10 ET (15:10 GMT), the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 97 points or 0.3%, while the S&P 500 fell 0.2% and the NASDAQ Composite fell 0.1%.

New claims rose to 228,000 last week, according to the Labor Department, far more than the 200,000 expected. The report adds to weaker-than-expected reports on private payrolls, job openings and factory orders this week. The highly anticipated job report for March is due out Friday.

Evidence of a slowing economy is encouraging futures traders to place more bets on a pause in the Federal Reserve’s rate hiking strategy. Slightly more traders are forecasting a pause compared with a smaller number of traders who are predicting a quarter of a percentage point hike next month.

Analysts expect tomorrow’s jobs report will say the economy added 239,000 jobs last month.

St. Louis President James Bullard spoke on the economy and monetary policy, saying financial conditions have become tighter and the Fed can continue to raise rates while using other methods to handle financial stress. While the jobs report is due out tomorrow, the stock market will be closed for Good Friday in the U.S.

Next week, first quarter earnings season kicks off with the biggest U.S. banks, a month after turmoil in the sector following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank. Investors will be listening to what bank executives say about the state of lending and consumer behavior.

Shares of warehouse retailer Costco Wholesale Corp (NASDAQ:COST) fell 2.7% after it reported weak same-store sales in March.

Oil fell. Crude Oil WTI Futures were flat at $80.58 a barrel, while Brent Oil Futures crude was up 0.1% to $85.05 a barrel. Gold Futures fell 0.5% to $2025.

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