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Midday Market Report: Unemployment Concerns Weigh on Oil, Stocks


Jobless claim numbers disappoint despite hitting a fresh four-year low. Oil continues to plummet while the president calls on Congress to stop supporting oil companies with tax cuts.

Wall Street is in the middle of its third straight day of losses today after US jobless claims raised concerns about the macroeconomy. The major equities indices in Europe are all off more than 1%.
  • The Eurostoxx 50 (^STOXX50E) fell 1.76% to 2,452.74.
  • The FTSE 100 (^FTSE) rose 1.15% to 5,742.03.
  • Germany's DAX (^GDAXI) fell 1.77% 6,875.15.
Initial jobless claims last week totaled 359,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is 5,000 below the previous week's upwardly revised total of 364,000, and the lowest level since 2008. Economists expected 350,000. Continuing claims dropped by 41,000 to 3.34 million.

Though this data shows that layoffs are continuing to trail off, the unexpected rise in claims hit equity indices, with energy and financial stocks taking the worst losses.
  • The Dow (^DJI) fell 0.46% to 13,125.99.
  • The S&P 500 (SPY) dropped 0.76% to 1,394.84.
  • The Nasdaq (^IXIC) declined 0.91% to 3,087.25.
Oil prices were already sinking as the US, France, and Britain consider releasing strategic petroleum reserves and US stockpiles turn out to be larger than previously thought. With this morning's disappointing jobless claims numbers, futures are falling even further. WTI crude futures are trading at $103.19/barrel, down 2.11%.

The lower oil price drove Exxon Mobil (XOM) down 0.44% and Chevron (CVX) down 0.27%. ConocoPhillips (COP) and BP (BP) both dropped more than 1%. France's Total (TOT) is also dealing with the fallout from a gas leak on one of its drilling platforms in the North Sea. Also weighing down on these is President Barack Obama's speech today, which suggested that the long-standing tax breaks given to oil companies -- worth about $4 billion -- be withdrawn.

Twitter: @vincent_trivett
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